Since there is not a specific project this week, I have decided to reflect a little bit about my work with students about Shepard Fairey. I did him for my Artist of the Week presentation, which usually entails a PowerPoint, video(s), or website that goes over the body of work and life of the artist. Students take a few notes and then we have a class discussion. The students reacted a lot to his work and the story about the lawsuit. Some students loved his work, the boldness and modern "graphic-y" look. They recognized some images from popular culture such as the Obey campaign, and of course, the Obama poster, as well as one of the other images of the guns and roses, which apparently, one of my students has as a tattoo (which brought up a whole new conversation about copyright and tattoos--one student mentioning that Hangover2 is getting sued over a Mike Tyson tattoo?). Some students thought his work was repetitive, narrow, and didn't take as much talent because it was made on a computer.
The issue of the lawsuit inspired quite a debate, varying greatly between my sections but always 2-sided. Some students said that he should have given the photographer credit. Some said if its on the internet, its easy to get, and therefore up for grabs. Some said he changed it so much that it shouldn't matter. Some said he didn't have any other choice 'cause he doesn't have a press pass to get a photograph. Some said Obama is such a figure-head, and in a political campaign, so his photographs should be fair use. Most agreed that Shepard should have at least given Garcia credit. I really enjoyed getting the kids talking about the issue and broadening their minds to the idea of credit and fair use. The more they realize the details of both sides, the more they will understand how these same issues effect their own lives.
By Shepard_Fairey.jpg: Cliff from I now live in Arlington, VA (Outside Washington DC), USA
derivative work: Davidowenmorgan (Shepard_Fairey.jpg) [CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Link to this image on Wikimedia Commons