April 4, 2001
Author: Moleski, Charles. Source: Art Papers v. 23 no3 May/June ’99
For all you hip people out there in the know about Shepard Fairey and what he has accomplished since creating a small sticker in 1989 need to go check out the “Obey: Shepard Fairy poster exhibition going on now through Friday, April 13th at the Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College in Davidson.
For all you people who are not in the know here is a brief history of the artist. Fairey was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design when he designed a sticker featuring the legendary obey giant. The sticker was very basic in design, a Andre with the words “obey giant Has Posse” and 7’4,” 520 LB.
Millions have seen this sticker stuck somewhere at one time or another and most have no idea where it comes from or what the message means. Since 1989 well over a half-million of these little stickers have popped up across the world and spurned a whole Giant art movement as well for Fairey. Year after year the “Posse” grows in popularity and more and more of the stickers pop up in the strangest places.
Since starting his growing Giant art campaign Fairey has said the experiment behind his explosive phenomenon is targeted to expose the “conspicuously consumptive” nature of our culture, the eagerness to buy in that results from image repetition.” He compares what he does with art to Heidegger’s theory of “Phenomenology.” Phenomenology is the process of letting things manifest themselves, it attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured, things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation. Fairey has produced many different works ranging from powerful to humorous over the last decade which include Communist style industrially produced propaganda images, celebrity images, rock star images and urban street scenes with heavy orange, yellow, black and green being the primary colors. People and bands included in this art include Lenin, Mao, Jesse Jackson, Big Brother, Marilyn Monroe, KISS, The Melvins and yes even Slayer.
The art in this exhibition as always revolves around the image of Andre the Giant usually accompanied by the words “Obey” or “Giant.” Black and White images of the Giant’s face adorned one wall, while the remaining space was filled with the variously brightly colored posters. The colored posters included images of KISS, Marilyn Monroe, Mao, urban street scenes, industrial propaganda style images and of course the Giant’s image was featured in every poster.
To say the very least the was a very entertaining exhibition and worth checking out if you are into something a bit different, new and fresh when it comes to an art exhibit. This exhibit also provides a chance for you to purchase the art as well as view it, but you can’t take it home until the exhibit is over, sorry. “Obey: Shepard Fairey” will be on display at the Van Every/Smith Galleries located on the Davidson College campus in Davidson.
Museum hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information on this exhibit, call 704-892-4520. You can also learn more about Shepard Fairey by checking out www.obeygiant.com/ on the Internet.