It was probably bound to happen: L.A. street artist and Obama “Hope” poster creator Shepard Fairey has turned Trayvon Martin into an icon.
The artist was commissioned by Ebony magazine a few months ago to create the piece; Fairey only just shared the image on his blog, saying he had to keep the artwork under wraps until the issue hit newsstands earlier this week. (Ebony is owned by Time Inc., the parent company of TIME and TIME.com.)
On the Trayvon Martin case, Fairey writes:
“I have followed Trayvon’s case closely and I think any compassionate human being can relate to Trayvon as a brother or son and would want to see a thorough investigation into the killing of an unarmed person. In my portrait I wanted to emphasize Trayvon’s humanity as well as the public outcry for a just investigation into his death.”
Some have wondered, however, whether it’s too similar to Fairey’s earlier work, and whether at this point in the news cycle — as Martin’s accused killer George Zimmerman faces the prospect of a long and complex trial for second-degree murder — its message will make much difference. L.A. Weekly’s take:
“The image would have made a much huger splash a few months ago, when Fairey says he created it. The artist’s faithful Haters love to rail on him for never meeting a social-justice cause he didn’t like — nor one he didn’t want to filter through his tried-and-true contrast tool. Collage some urban-looking patternry onto the background, and voila! Name-brand T-shirt activism!”