Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Met Obama... sort of

This weekend I visited the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery in DC. We were on the way out when I wanted to check out one last room. i stuck my head through the entrance and right there on the wall was Shepard Fairey's hand-finished collage stencil and acrylic on paper version of the Obama Hope poster.

Seeing this poster as "art" is probably harder than most works of art.

First, you have to get past the image. When someone sees the much smaller sticker version, depending on their political swing, they have one of two reactions. Either they see hope and change or they are hoping for change in the next election.

Of course that is the purpose of the art... it's an iconic image.

I see past the political icon but get hung up on a second issue...

copyright infringement.

Even when I separate my political opinion of the man in the image, president Obama, I'm still left with my opinion of the second man, Shepard Fairey. The image reminds me of his conflict with the AP over the "borrowed" image.

As an art teacher, I'm constantly speaking to my students about copyright infringements.. Crime doesn't pay... Unless you "borrow" a photo from the AP and you're Shepard Fairey. The two parties recently reached an agreement to share all the proceeds from use of the image.

It wasn't till I turned the corner and saw the image in person that I was able to connect with the art.

It's a great piece.

Larger than I expected. Maybe 5 feet tall.

What you can't tell by looking at a two inch replica sticker is the background. The image was placed over newspaper and in some spots the ads and text are still visible through the ink.


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