For the 2008 presidential campaign, Shepard Fairey put an iconic image to Barack Obama’s name. Playing off Obama’s campaign slogan of “yes we can,” Fairey blazoned the new president’s contemplative face in red, white, and blue, resting above a single word: “HOPE.”
For Donald Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration, Fairey went in a different direction.
In a trio of posters the artist made for this “We the People” campaign — available via free download at the Amplifier Foundation website and as a full-page ad in the January 20 edition of the Washington Post — Fairey depicts not the man who’s now president, but three civilian women.
An African-American woman stars in “Protect Each Other”:
A Latina woman in “Defend Dignity”:
And a Muslim woman wearing an American flag headscarf in “Greater Than Fear”:
As Fairey explained to the Washington Post, this triptych deliberately represents the kinds of people Trump targeted to harsh effect throughout his campaign. Moreover, the decision to center people who are not established leaders — one echoed in other designs for the Amplifier Foundation by artists like Jessica Sabogal, Ernesto Yerena, Liza Donovan, Victoria Garcia, Jennifer Maravillas, and Kate Deciccio — was purposeful:
In 2008, I viewed Obama as an inspiring speaker and leader but also someone who would potentially help push progress on a number of issues that I care about. Many of those issues were about basic human dignity and fairness. I think that this campaign is similar in its appeal to human dignity and fairness, but different in that the subjects are not people who have aspirations as leaders. They are any and all of us.
By making anonymous but resilient women the focus of his 2017 designs, Fairey hopes to make these posters more universal — and maybe just a little more inspirational to those who won’t have seen themselves represented at today’s inauguration.