Remember this picture? This poster was designed by Shepard Fairey in 2008 for the presidential campaign. A time when campaigns were marked by hope and not by despair or intense dislike for the greater evil.
“Barack Obama” by Shepard Fairey.
Regardless, that was 2008. Today we have different needs. Donald Trump is president as of today, January 20th. There are protests planned around the country, the biggest march culminating in DC in front of the inauguration. In this tense time, Fairey has returned with a set of three new posters, in collaboration with two other artists who have each supplied a separate poster. These posters are branded with a new slogan designed for the campaign of today: “We The People”
The first three are by Fairey, the last two are separately by two other artists, Colombian American muralist Jessica Sabogal and and Chicano graphic artist Ernesto Yerena.
The trio teamed up with the Amplifier Foundation, a nonprofit that works with activists/organizers to boost the visibility of grassroots movements to create the posters and fund the campaign. A Kickstarter campaign for “We the People” has raised more than $1,300,000 since it was launched January 10th. The idea for this campaign was taken from the ‘HOPE’ posters of 2008, but reinvented for today. Today, we need something that unites us around values of acceptance and protection of the marginalized.
Fairey says: “We thought it was the right time to make a campaign that’s about diversity and inclusion, about people seeing the common bonds we have, and our connections as human beings. The idea was to take back a lot of this patriotic language in a way that we see is positive and progressive, and not let it be hijacked by people who want to say that the American flag or American concepts only represent one narrow way of thinking.”
The posters are exciting for a number of reasons:
One, we see women take center stage in this resistance art! The three posters modeled after Obama’s iconic HOPE design feature women looking directly out at the world, contesting their invalidation.
Two, these posters are striking in their colors and direct inspiration from the HOPE poster, as mentioned, which shows a public desire to keep that legacy moving forward.
Three, the usage of American identities that have been, at times, under threat during this election season (and possibly will continue to be during the next four years) is very powerful. Fairey combats the general hateful rhetoric surrounding the new president by using his art to make a direct statement towards racism in this country: that we will not accept it. The posters state clearly that fear is unacceptable, and call on us all to stand by each other and protect one another. The campaign calls on values of unity and reminds us of our strength as a diverse nation. I imagine that is why this campaign is called ‘We the People’, without terms and conditions that would otherwise apply. Simply that “We the People are Greater than Fear.”