The Future Is Unwritten was created for the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s inaugural “Artist as Activist” print project. The project champions Rauschenbergʼs legacy of using art as a vehicle for social change. This year, proceeds from the “Artist as Activist” project will benefit the Coalition for the Homeless charity. The Coalition for the Homeless has provided housing, food, job training, crisis services, and children’s programs to thousands of New Yorkers since 1981. Together, the Foundation and the Coalition have selected Shepard Fairey to be this year’s “Artist as Activist.”
“I am honored to work with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation both because I believe in the cause to fight homelessness and because I am a long time fan of Rauschenberg’s art and activism. Rauschenberg often used his art in support of social causes and I follow a similar model in my own art practice. I’m proud to be associated with Rauschenberg’s amazing legacy as an artist and activist.” -Shepard Fairey
My piece, “The Future Is Unwritten“, evolved from several points of inspiration. Visually, the piece takes cues from the idealized styles of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. These art movements just preceded, and crossed into, the Great Depression, an era that saw a tremendous social aid effort under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The text, “”The Future Is Unwritten” is a quote from Joe Strummer of the punk group The Clash, who was a dedicated advocate for the working class. The flower growing from the barbed wire in my art piece is symbolic of the negative being overcome by the positive, a visual metaphor for hope in the unwritten future. The text LIBERTY, SHELTER, and EQUALITY refers to values, if not rights, that most people see as universally important. I see liberty as a right that fosters independence and self-determination, but which must be balanced by social responsibility and compassion for the less fortunate. It is only possible for society to evolve in a positive direction with a healthy balance of honoring both the needs of the individual, and promoting basic human rights and equality of the collective. Please join me in supporting the fight against homelessness.”
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