Monday, April 5, 2010

Shepard Fairey and Hamburgers

Today was one of those days that went thousands of times better than expected. Especially since I went to school fully expecting to be missing limbs by the time the day was out.
Turns out not only was my crazy director the opposite of terrifying today, but my crazy history teacher couldn't get her computer working worth her life this morning, giving as a 45 minute study hall. Lunch was all of my friends and myself outside, laughing our arses off, Kali and I discussing X rated study hall discussions from freshman year and me and Michael speaking of how next year at homecoming, we'd probably be the ones leaving our actual dates hanging to dance with each other.
But that was far from the best part. When The Vagina Monologues released us early, my mother picked me up for dinner at Hamburger Mary's (this local Cincinnati place that is really good, but BEWARE THE FIVE CHEESE BURGER. The blue cheese has some awkwardly crazy flavor to it that will kill you. Trust me, I learned the hard way) and then we shot off to test out the new exhibits at the Contemporary Arts Center.
I love that place. I've always thought it was so weird how national monuments mean nothing, yet art muesuems and libraries are sacred places to me. Always have been. Because of the CAC I am now a fan of Marilyn Minter's Chewing Color. The exhibit was wonderful and unique, made up mainly of photographs showing glamorous things from unglamorous angles, such as designer shoes in mud puddles or high fashion makeup caked onto faces. While her movie was a little odd, (okay, I'll just say it, very creepy) I'm a huge fan of her photos 'Pop' and 'Tights' and I could have stared at her painting 'Glazed' for hours.
Shilpa Gupta though, who was on the same floor as Minter was, just sort of scared me. Her work was creepy and I didn't get anything from it until I read the little side cards. She attempted to use sculture and audio to show the plight of widows in the Middle East and tried to show childhood objects as rays of hope, such as a balloon that said "I Want To Fear No More." That was the only peice of work in the entire exhibit that even had a tiny impact on me.
But Shepard Fairey.
Oh God, Shepard Fairey.
I have newly become a diehard fan of his. Shepard Fairey is the one who created the famous red, white, and blue poster of Obama that has become iconic during his election. And his work is breathtaking.
Fairey is one of those rare artists who produces beautiful work that also causes you to think at the same time. To compare his art to literature, his works have a type of Animal Farm and Fahrenhiet 451 feel to them. Only while those books depict people as sheep, showing how easily they're taken over and run by forces foreign to them, Fairey does the complete opposite. He brings out the uniqueness and wonder in people by treating them as sheep. His entire exhibit, Supply and Demand is reverse pyschology. Other than the Obama poster, Fairey is best known for his Andre the Giant and OBEY stickers and symbols that appear in almost every one of his works. As you move through the exhibit, gazing at his paintings and his collages, which depict images such as aka 47's shooting roses and a happy family, Daddy holding a US Treasury briefcase, both parents cradling a bomb; the monsterous face and OBEY symbol seems to show up in almost everyone of his works, making you automatically question it's meaning. And once you can't find it's meaning, you begin to question everything in the exhibit.
This is exactly what Mr. Fairey wants you to do.
He wants you to wonder and ask questions and keep yourself from becoming the sheep that we are set to become according to Bradbury and Orwell. And you do as you wander through the exhibit, taking notice of pieces that mix mediums, paint and collage as well as symbols of war and peace. His images shown in pieces like "Uncle Scam" which depicts a devilish looking Uncle Sam holding skulls marked 'Human Rights' 'Civil Liberty' and 'Privacy', to show you the horrors that could occur if we allow government to control everything around us. Paintings such as "Evolve Devolve" which shows a windmill and an oil drill, a distance away from each other, yet against the same sunset, makes you stop and wonder for a moment if so called 'Progress' really is just taking us backwards.
The man easily does what some artists spend they're lives trying to do. He uses a figure and a word as simple as Andre the Giant and OBEY to evoke questions and emotion within people. And if art doesn't do that my friend, what good is it to us? But luckily Mr. Fairey does that exact thing with such grace that I will no doubt be questioning his art and my emotions about it for years to come.


  1. I love when days end up surprising you and end up being so much better than you thought. Yay to that!

  2. That sounds like an awesome day. I hope I get to see an exhibit like that soon.

  3. Glad you had such an unexpectedly lovely day - the best kind of lovely day!! And haha-love the Jesus Zombie Day!! :) xx