Shepard Fairey’s "John Lewis-Good Trouble," Version 2, 2020 (courtesy of the artist)
Shepard Fairey's "Exclamation," Version 2, 2019 (courtesy of artist)
Shepard Fairey's "Defend Dignity," Version 1, 2017 (courtesy of artist)
Shepard Fairey's "Bias By Numbers," Version 1, 2017 (courtesy of artist)
Shepard Fairey's "AR-15 Lily," 2021 (courtesy of artist)
Aren’t we all ready to hear from Shepard Fairey again? In the decade that’s passed since the Dallas Contemporary first commissioned a series of murals from the Los Angeles-based artist and activist — whose red-and-blue-hued street style has made him one of the most recognizable players in the game — a lot has changed. And, as always, Fairey’s work adapts and evolves with every shift.
In 2008, his iconic poster of Barack Obama with the word HOPE written across it became ubiquitous with the sentiment behind the senator’s presidential campaign. His 2017 series “We the People” — which was created in protest of then-president-elect Donald Trump — featured images of Native Americans, Latinas, Muslims, and African Americans with slogans such as “Are Greater Than Fear” and “Defend Dignity.”
The artist who was once evading the law with his street-tagging ways has become a sought-after creative force and a voice for underrepresented and marginalized communities, so it comes as no surprise that Fairey’s latest exhibition for the Dallas Contemporary will answer the question: Are we moving forward or backward.
“Shepard’s artworks help us to see and understand the complicated world that we live in,” writes Pedro Alonzo, adjunct curator at Dallas Contemporary and long-time Fairey collaborator. “His constant presence in the public realm questions hierarchies of power and celebrates our shared humanity, which has had a profound influence on how we see ourselves and others. He remains rooted to his core values of what we now call social justice while having adapted to major changes such as social media and society’s embrace of street art, which was once considered a form of vandalism.”
In a first-ever solo museum exhibition in Texas, Fairey grapples with questions of power, equality, freedom, and human rights.
Catch the exhibit, “Shepard Fairey: Backward Forward,” from September 25, 2022 to March 19, 2023, at the Dallas Contemporary. Visit dallascontemporary.org for more.