It’s been six-plus months since Obama took office, and the Rolling Stone cover is the first image of Obama I’ve created in that time. As a candidate, his vision and his message of shared civic duty were inspiring, but as president he faces an unbelievable pressure to accomplish what he set out to do, despite the reality that he can’t do it alone. Much like my “Hope” image was intended to express his vision and his intellectual diligence, I also wanted this new image to convey his focus, but with the added weight and stress of responsibility. Whether media like the New York Daily News are looking to fan conservative flames with “liberals think Obama is the messiah” talking points, or just saying things like that to create juicy headlines, it should be obvious that this image is not about anything divine, but about dealing with the real world job at hand. While he is undoubtedly our leader, the question I placed inside the presidential seal “Will he take bold action or compromise too easily?” is one that I think we all need to ask about ourselves and what we’re doing to work toward what we believe in. The pitfalls of “politics as usual” aren’t reserved for politicians.
However, a lot can and will change. As Joe Strummer of The Clash once said, “The future is unwritten.” In my illustration I make reference to Gilbert Stuart’s famous unfinished portrait of George Washington to capture the idea that, although we’re quick to judge, it’s too early to tell how Obama’s presidency will turn out. Hopefully Obama and all of us who have stood behind him will do everything we can to fill in our incomplete future the way we’ve pictured it.