“Facing The Giant: Three Decades of Dissent” in Vancouver with Burrard Arts

August 05, 2019

Burrard Arts Foundation Launches Surface Series Featuring Renowned Artist Shepard Fairey

Covering 10,000 square feet, the 20-storey mural will be located at Georgia and Burrard, the first in the rotating art series presented in collaboration with Vancouver Mural Festival.

Vancouver, BC, July 15, 2019 – Burrard Arts Foundation presents Surface Series, a new large-scale, rotating public art program located at Burrard and Georgia, spanning 20-storeys and 10,000 square feet. On August 7th, Surface Series will complete its inaugural work titled “Earth Justice” by prominent American graphic artist and social activist, Shepard Fairey. This is a part of the artist’s Earth Crisis series, a body of work centred on the concept that we are facing an environmental crisis. Fairey is perhaps best known for his iconic 2008 portrait of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama titled “Hope.” He has exhibited at, and is in the collections of, institutions like the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Warhol Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and numerous others. This will be the first mural in Vancouver for Fairey and will coincide with the launch of his art exhibition, Facing the Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent, displayed at Burrard Arts Foundation.

In the coming years, Surface Series will feature prominent national and international contemporary artists practicing in a variety of mediums, which may include painting, photography, text, digital and more. The Surface Series project seeks to spark generative social dialogue through contemporary art while improving the urban environment and civic space through creative placemaking. The inaugural Surface Series featuring Shepard Fairey is presented in partnership with the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and in collaboration with this year’s Vancouver Mural Festival, which will also be producing 25 new murals during their 10-days of events, August 1 to 10th.

“Arts and culture, and in particular public art, is a catalyst to spark creative inspiration, foster civic discourse, promote cultural understanding and build social capital,” said Christian Chan, Founder and Board President of Burrard Arts Foundation. “We’re thrilled to launch Surface Series with Shepard Fairey. ‘Earth Justice’ addresses the question of how to balance respect for our precious ecosystem with economic growth, progress and expansion in a city known for both its nature and economic development. Shepard has the unique ability to capture the public imagination, generate positive dialogue and spur people to action through bold and beautiful artwork.”

Following the lead of other major cosmopolitan cities, such as New York, London, Boston and Seattle, Surface Series ensures that platforms for arts and culture expand along with Vancouver’s burgeoning economic and urban growth.

“I chose this mural ‘Earth Justice,’ which is about respecting and preserving the Earth, for Vancouver for multiple reasons. Vancouver is a place with a lot of natural beauty and an environmentally-themed mural is a reminder to maintain the conditions that not only protect that specific beauty but protect the climate and the environment in general,” said Shepard Fairey. “The tall, vertical format of the building lends itself to this artwork, and I think the message is one that works for Vancouver but also works globally. We are all connected, and our actions impact the entire planet.”

The mural launch will coincide with an art exhibition at Burrard Arts Foundation featuring Shepard’s work titled Facing the Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the OBEY GIANT art campaign. These works address recurring topics in Shepard Fairey’s career such as phenomenology, self-empowerment, rebellion, abuse of power, environmental destruction, racism, gender inequality, xenophobia, campaign finance reform, the military industrial complex, propaganda, war and peace, and economic imperialism. The artworks were selected because of their importance aesthetically and conceptually. The show will feature the Facing the Giant series of 30 selected 30 x 41-inch hand painted multiples (HPMs), which are prints on unique collaged backgrounds with additional stenciling and embellishments, as well as newer works on view. This art exhibition will run from August 8th to September 28th.

About Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey (b. 1970 in Charleston, S.C.) In 1989, while at Rhode Island School of Design studying for his Bachelor of Fine Art in Illustration (which he earned in 1992), Shepard Fairey created the “Andre the Giant has a Posse” sticker that later evolved into the OBEY GIANT art campaign. In 2008, his portrait of then-Democratic candidate Barack Obama became an internationally recognized emblem of hope. Since then, Fairey has painted nearly 100 public murals, become one of the most sought-after and provocative artists in the world, and changed the way people converse about art and view the urban landscape. In June 2019, Shepard Fairey launched Facing the Giant: Three Decades of Dissent with a touring exhibition reflecting on the artist’s 30-year career.

About Burrard Arts Foundation

Burrard Arts Foundation creates more opportunities for the public to experience art. Through special projects that foster creativity in the public realm, and by supporting the talented artists who call Vancouver home, BAF promotes excellence in contemporary art in Canada. BAF projects and programming prioritize at every turn a low-barrier, inclusive mode of arts presentation with a special focus on professional development for early-career artists.