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Arts

Trayvon Martin Gets the Shepard Fairey Treatment in Ebony Magazine

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Thu, May 24, 2012 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge To appear in this week's copy of Ebony. - OBEYGIANT.COM
  • obeygiant.com
  • To appear in this week's copy of Ebony.
It was only a matter of time before L.A. street artist (turned international graphic-design star and Obama portraiteer) Shepard Fairey took on Trayvon.

We're actually surprised it didn't happen sooner. Though there remains the sporadic rally cry for the young black Florida teen's murderer to be brought to justice, including a star-studded protest in L.A. last month, the news event is largely in the tail curve of its Internet popularity. Perhaps that's why Ebony Magazine tries to revive the cause in this week's issue:

According to Fairey's blog, he "created this artwork a few months ago for a commission by Ebony Magazine" but was "not able to show the artwork until the issue hit newsstands this week."

Here's how the homicide case has touched Fairey personally:

"I have followed Trayvon's case closely and I think any compassionate human being can relate to Trayvon as a brother or son and would want to see a thorough investigation into the killing of an unarmed person. In my portrait I wanted to emphasize Trayvon's humanity as well as the public outcry for a just investigation into his death."

The image would have made a much huger splash a few months ago, when Fairey says he created it. The artist's faithful Haters love to rail on him for never meeting a social-justice cause he didn't like -- nor one he didn't want to filter through his tried-and-true contrast tool. Collage some urban-looking patternry onto the background, and voila! Name-brand T-shirt activism!

For example, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Occupy Wall Street party invite (aka Maya Angelou), Occupy HOPE and TIME's cover protester. He also just seems to like black subjects in general, such as Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali and Ugandan children.

The more we look at the Trayvon piece, the more it resembles Occupy L.A. protester Sarah Mason's portrait on the cover of TIME, in particular. The color scheme, the gaze, the newspaper clippings...

But unlike with high-profile Fairey works past, this source image's photographer isn't around to bicker over copyright.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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