Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Graphic Action

On this Inauguration Day, moments after President Barack Hussein Obama has been sworn into office, I am so moved and must raise my voice to the throng!

As part of his acceptance speech, President Obama has called Americans to service. He has reminded our nation of that its greatest value is in our ability to make change by being the change ourselves, that we have a generosity of spirit that defies boundaries. He has called upon this spirit, asking us to use our talents and ingenuity to be contributors to our communities. The pundits say this is a call to sacrifice, the spiritual will say that is really a gift.

At this moment, as an artist, I cannot help but remember one aspect of Obama's campaign journey -- the Hope poster (see above). Originally designed and printed by Shepherd Fairey, who offered the design as a free download off of his website, this image metamorphosed from a mere campaign promo to an icon of American ideals. A screen print of which has recently been acquired by the Smithsonian Museum, to read the details, visit here.

I call upon artists to remember these two concepts - this call to service, and the power of art to influence. That through our art, as evidenced not only by Shepherd Fairey, but by artists like Lorraine Schneider, Tim Rollins and K.O.S, by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, the Love Armor Project, the Combat Paper Project, in the past through projects like the WPA, artists of this country, particularly those in the graphic arts like printmaking, have the ability to capture, define, and impact the moment. I have always believed, some would say held faith, in the hope that art can make the world better. Images have the ability to go beyond their maker -- how many Americans can identify the Hope poster as the work of Shepherd Fairey? Does it mattter? -- to become instruments of transformation. Because of this, I call upon all artists to consider ways to use their talents and their creativity as service to larger ideals and a greater whole.

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