Jim Marshall documented some of the most important historical and cultural moments in our country. I was honored to collaborate with his iconic images and my aim was to amplify them by bringing something new with my style, but also remain true to the emotions that Jim captured. The “American Civics” series was the first-ever collaboration between me and Jim Marshall’s estate, and the series focuses on voting rights, gun control, prison reform, income inequality, and workers’ rights. The art I created for American Civics gives a face to social justice issues, to cultivate dialogue and encourage a vigorous push for solutions to societal problems. As part of this series, the “American Civics” exhibition was on view at Subliminal Projects in 2016, but now these prints will be available online! These prints are extremely limited, and are produced at a higher quality than my usual prints; all 30 x 40 inches, 4-color serigraph on varnished 100% cotton rag archival paper. A portion of proceeds from each print will go to corresponding charities. Check it out!
Jim Marshall photographed Cesar Chavez during Chavez’s 300-mile march to the California State Capitol in Sacramento to bring widespread public attention to farmworkers’ causes, civil rights, political representation for racial minorities, and environmental justice. (March 1966).
“I removed the guy next to Cesar Chavez. I made him sticking his head up a little higher, so he’s a little bit more in the negative space. I collaged a lot of other images of Jim Marshall’s other photos in the march, things that reinforced the narrative. That’s all collaged by hand and all painted with stencils and spray paint and a brush.” – S
Jim Marshall lived in the distinctive Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York from 1962 to 1964, working with major record labels and news magazines. He shot many of his iconic Bob Dylan photos there. The Village also offered poignant scenes of street life, which Jim captured with his Leica, including a kid resting after playing “good guys vs. bad guys.” (1963). New York City.
“This obsession with guns is ingrained, and it starts at a young age. And that kid could have innocently been playing ‘good guys and bad guys,’ but it also has a deeper implication of just how culturally ingrained guns are and how that allows gun ownership to trump safety. The sidewalk is the American flag. That to me — it’s such a loaded symbol — and sometimes that can be something that is an easy gimmick, but I really think it’s meaningful in this because it’s almost [as if] you’re un-American if you don’t support gun rights.” – S
Jim Marshall’s photo of Fannie Lee Chaney, mother of James Chaney, as the FBI informed her that her son, James Chaney was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while he signed up black Americans to vote in the South. (June 21, 1964, during Freedom Summer near Philadelphia, Mississippi).
“That one is probably the most intense of the images, if you know the backstory. Fannie Lee Chaney, who was the mother of James Earl Chaney, who was killed along with two white friends while trying to register black people to vote. So you know about it — a lot of people know about it — but this is an intimate portrait of James Earl Chaney’s mom the day she found out her son had been killed. There’s a sadness and resolve in the image, but there’s also a humanity.” – S
On assignment in the winter of 1963, Jim Marshall embedded himself with a coal mining family in Hazard, Kentucky. He resided with the family, sleeping in their home and sharing their food. And he photographed their lives and daily struggles to survive in dire poverty. The author of the article remained in New York, and believing that the writer was judgmental about the people of Hazard, Jim refused to allow the use of his photographs for the story.
“In this piece, I completely changed the composition. I have the mother behind the kids as if she’s leaning over them in a protective way. In the original photograph, she’s off to the side. Also, a lot of the things I’ve woven into the collage and the background are really important. I’ve tried to render the window so it’s light outside, [because] it’s very dark outside and doesn’t come across in the original photo.” – S
Jim Marshall’s photograph of Johnny Cash taken at Folsom Prison, California, 1968.
“In the past, I was doing Johnny Cash images for art or commercial products. In this case, Johnny Cash has a different use. It’s a gateway. If you look at the images woven into the image, there’s Martin Luther King’s mug shot. There’s the prisoner’s bill of rights in the corner. There’s some references to ‘Public Enemy’ that were [in] headlines back in Al Capone’s time. But for me, it also references the [hip-hop] group Public Enemy, which has a song, ‘Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos,’ which is about a prison break.” – S