Shepard Fairey, an artist best known for his 2008 iconic poster of then candidate Barack Obama, plans to create a 15 feet wide and 25 feet long mural for the Perry Cohen wetlands project at Jupiter Community High School.
“We the People,” is his current project. The series of red, white and blue posters was toted by participants Saturday in the the women’s marches in Washington and around the world
A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Fairey paid for producing and circulated about 300,000 of the Obama posters. Back then, Fairey was not as famous as he is today.
“It was a grassroots effort. It was unexpected that it would resonate so well with so many people. The (Obama poster) took me fully mainstream,” said Fairey.
Fairey, 46, created the yellow and blue logo for free for the non-profit foundation founded by Perry’s parents to support the advancement of boating safety, marine and wildlife education and preservation, teenage entrepreneurship and supporting the arts. The foundation is now raising about $400,000 for the wetlands project at Jupiter High on Military Trail.
Fairey spoke last week to The Palm Beach Post.
What is your relationship with the Cohen family?
Nick Korniloff (Perry’s father) used to bring Perry to Art Basel while I was working in Wynwood. It’s like Woodstock and Mardi Gras. Very exciting. I have known Nick since 2009. I met Pamela (Perry’s mother) many times. Since then, I’ve got to know them very well. Nick told me Perry really responded to my work.
Why are you doing the wall mural for the Perry Cohen wetlands project?
When I heard about what happened to Perry (and Austin Stephanos) it broke my heart. I have two daughters, they are about the same age as Perry. Now that I’m a parent, I realize it is hard work. I want to be a steward for the planet and I want to play a role in making progress. Perry’s story resonated with so many people. I want to help create good out of something tragic.
How will the painting process in Jupiter work?
I will be painting the mural directly on the wall at the wetlands project at Jupiter High School with two assistants. I figure it will take about two days. The public can come and watch. I want to demystify art so people will try it themselves. We haven’t set a date yet. Maybe we’ll do it during the next Art Basel.
As an artist behind such large projects as “We The People,” why do a small project like the Perry Cohen Foundation?
I care for the Cohen family. Also, I don’t want art in only elite places. When art is meaningful, it resonates with everybody. The best art can be personally interpreted but also has something universal. The power of public art is to create a conversation that would not happen otherwise.