Los Angeles-based graphic artist and social activist Shepard Fairey has officially unveiled his first piece of artwork in Vancouver, and it’s one of the largest creations he’s ever done.
Earth Justice is a 20-storey mural that covers 10,000-square-feet, located at Burrard and West Georgia Street as part of Burrard Arts Foundation’s Surface Series rotating public art program.
This large-scale art coincides with the launch of his art exhibition, Facing the Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent, at the Burrard Arts Foundation gallery (258 East 1st Avenue), and the 30th anniversary of his Obey Giant art campaign.
The blue, teal, and white-hued mural features various motifs that shine light on the global environmental crisis, as well as respecting and preserving our planet.
“For me, art isn’t always about pleasing people. Sometimes it’s about challenging people too,” Fairey told the Straight in an interview at the Burrard Building.
His mural doesn’t have a specific message aimed toward city-dwellers, but he hopes people will take away an overall concept of being environmentally friendly citizens.
“I think it’s implied in the mural that it’s important to nurture the Earth and I hope that comes through. But the peace sign around my logo, the value of peace and harmony could be something I’d be happy for people to take away,” added Fairey. “The broken chain [is] the idea of breaking away from the status quo when it isn’t healthy for what’s going on environmentally, politically, culturally, and having the courage to disobey when necessary is important. The idea it can be a conversation starter is exciting too.”
Christian Chan, founder and board president of the Burrard Arts Foundation, has been a fan of Fairey’s art and practice since the 90’s. He’s been working on bringing the high-profile artist to Vancouver for nearly 18 months.
“A really unique thing about Shepard’s art practice is that he speaks to such a wide cross section of the public,” Chan told the Straight in an interview at the mural unveil. “There are a lot of fantastic artists and fantastic people in the art world in Vancouver, but to be able to span that across the borders and to more of a public domain, is a pretty important thing.’
“A lot of people and other organizations ask him to participate in projects around the world, and many of them he says no to because he’s very busy. So we feel extremely blessed to be able to work this out with him,” added Chan.
Earth Justice took Fairey and his team four days to complete, which was faster than he anticipated. If you’re hoping to catching a glimpse of the massive mural, there are great vantage points in the plaza outside of 1075 West Georgia.
“There is a lot of support for environmental responsibility here [in Vancouver], and it’s super exciting for me to be able to do a mural that sort of amplifies that message.”
Scroll through the photos below for a look at the newest public artwork in the city.