Famed street artist-cum-celebrated-printmaker Shepard Fairey, of OBEY fame, is backing the Occupy Wall Street movement with a new piece of artwork that turns his iconic 2008 campaign poster in support of Barack Obama into a plea for him to join the 99 percent.
Fairey's poster, which casts the then-presidential candidate in red-white-and-blue over the word HOPE, has been changed to instead feature the Guy Fawkes mask that has become the face of the Occupy movement (and of the Anonymous legion), under a black hood and over the words Mr. Obama, we HOPE you're on our side.
It also includes 2008 Obama's campaign logo, which features a circle and what are presumed to be patriotically-dyed amber waves of grain, but Fairey pasted We are the 99% over top of the symbol, co-opting it for the movement.
This image represents my support for the Occupy movement, a grassroots movement spawned to stand up against corruption, imbalance of power, and failure of our democracy to represent and help average Americans, Fairey said on his Web site. On the other hand, as flawed as the system is, I see Obama as a potential ally of the Occupy movement if the energy of the movement is perceived as constructive, not destructive. I still see Obama as the closest thing to 'a man on the inside' that we have presently.
Obama has spoken little publicly about the Occupy movement since it began, and hasn't had any major public discussion of the violent police actions taken against protesters in cities across the U.S.
In October he did discuss the movement with a reporter on Fox News, but stopped short of taking sides.
I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel: that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet we're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us in this problem in the first place, said Obama.. So, yes, I think people are frustrated, and the protests are giving voice to a more broad base of frustration about how our financial system works.
The Occupy movement hasn't embraced any current political leaders or either political party.