Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Reflections/Milton's Story and Shepard Fairy's Art of Hope

Milton's Story

September 11th, 2001 will always be at time of tragedy, sadness and reflection for all Americans. Each person can tell you where they were and what they were doing when they found out our country was under attack. Milton's story was different than most because he was there, struggling to survive that clear September morning on the streets of New York City. Milton is an Episcopal Priest whose church was near ground zero. The church survived miraculously.
Milton was on his way to his church when the planes struck slamming into the twin towers at hundreds of miles of hour with a fireball of fuel, like a cannon balling huge balls of fire into the offices of people typing on computer , in meetings, and talking on phones. The building shook, smoke poured out the windows, confusion, what has happened, more confusion, what will happen? Milton stands transfixed, he rushes toward his church, the first tower starts to crumble, as is does, a rush of air, smoke and debris shoot down the stairs into the street with the force of hurricane winds. People are running, trying to find any open door to duck into. Milton can't get to a building the roar is over taking him, he rolls under a car near by and prays he will survive. He can't breathe the smoke and debris are so thick. He sees someone who needs help, he rolls out from under the car and grabs them, they go to the nearest door and people let them in, the door closes, more debris rushes past them. Helpless strangers in a room watch from glass windows as if in a fog that no one can see through. After the first building is hit and the debris storm clears people are thinking they need to leave the area, then the second tower is hit, people start to run to get away knowing what is coming. Milton turned around, there is a handicapped man that is left in the room, he can not leave him so he goes back and gets him....he helps him to get further away before the next debris storm comes. He leads the group to safety and a clinic where they will be helped. Nothing is running, no taxi's, no subway, nothing...where should he go, who can he help...now they are evacuating the city...he must leave, but go where...he lost his cell phone, no money, no wallet...he gets on a boat to New Jersey and somehow gets in contact with family who can take him in. That is Miltons story.
He told me his story on the week of President Obama's inauguration. That day the country was once again feeling hope. It may not be the way Milton would tell it, but I was captivated listening to him tell his story that day for 2 hours while we sat in the cafe of the American Indian Museum in Washington D.C. Milton made the cover of European magazines, someone took a picture of him rolling under the car in the debris storm. He made the cover the story was covered by Reuters. Milton is still an Episcopal priest, he now resides in Washington D.C

Shepard Fairey

I didn't know Shepard Faireys' work before the campaign of President Obama. Until I saw the work in person I thought it was painted and no collage elements. The portrait was displayed at a museum in Washington D.C. the day of the Presidents inauguration. It was an amazing day, a day of hope in a country that had been struggling with the after effects of 9/11. There was much to share from that day and that is for another blog entry with many wonderful photos taken showing the pride of African Americans and a feeling of at long last. But today we will talk of Shepard Fairey the artist.

The colors are bold, dramatic and clear. There is no background only the image of Barack Obama looking out into the distance of a vision he sees for America and that vision is hope. The pictures remind me of political posters of Eastern Europe during earlier periods of history. As I look closer I see collage elements, and stenciling, newspaper, and spray painted areas. It appears as the artist was working with larger areas first, the going back inside each separate area working in collage or the opposite laying out the collage and then stenciling the outline of the face over the collage. As you scroll down in the photo's below you will see the close up of mixed media elements.

When you look closely at each area, it becomes its own strong visual field, each shape defines a new area that could stand alone as its own whole.
I particularly love the area of the tie, collar, and neck line. When you look this closely it is almost abstracted, but still visually strong. To me that one section would be a painting in itself. That is what is interesting to me about Shepard Faireys work...each section in inherently interesting and the next.
If you remember there was much controversy over the work. The picture of President elect Obama had been taken by a photographer and Shepard had use the same apparent photo to work from. So who owned the image? Was it illegal for Shepard to have copied a photographers image. Who owns the image rights? I am not sure how the controversy settled out, but I am sure it is not one that is over in the art world. And Shepard himself has been taken advantage of, people copy his work, his style and use this image all with out permission. No royalties for the artists, little protection. It still is an amazing art work to see close and discover the hidden worlds with in.
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