American contemporary street artist and graphic designer Shepard Fairey is best known for his viral designs featuring wrestler Andre the Giant and his “Hope” poster featuring Barack Obama.
Last Saturday Fairey unveiled a 15-story mural of Johnny Cas in downtown Sacramento, CA., just over 25 miles from where his historic Folsom Prison performance took place. Fairey stated on his Instagram account that the event was to commemorate …”the 50th anniversary of Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison album, and I hope that this art will ignite a conversation around the need for incarceration reform.”
Johnny Cash was an outspoken advocate of prison reform.
If you've been following updates this week, you know that I'm in #Sacramento for @WideOpenWalls. The crew and I just completed my 15-story #JohnnyCash at #FolsomPrison mural, which is my largest in the state of #California and my most technically ambitious mural ever. The art is based on a photo by @JimMarshallPhoto which I used originally as part of my #AmericanCivics series. I’m grateful to be able to create this image on such a large scale as a tribute for the 50th anniversary of Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison album, and I hope that this art will ignite a conversation around the need for incarceration reform. According to a recent in-depth study by the Prison Policy Initiative, America has the highest incarceration rate in the world with a shocking 2.3 million people currently imprisoned. On top of that, our prisons are disproportionately filled with poor people of color, in fact, African Americans are 13% of the U.S. population, yet 40% of the prison population in this country. More African American men are under correctional control today than there were slaves in the 1850s according to a Huffington Post piece by writer and civil rights advocate Michelle Alexander. A portion of proceeds from the Johnny Cash print I made, currently available through @ToyRoomGallery, will benefit @Cut50. Thank you to @WideOpenWalls, @BrandedArts, and my crew of assistants, Dan Flores, Nic Bowers, Rob Zagula, and Luka Densmore for the 11-hour days we worked this week in the intense heat to get this mural finished! 📷 by @jonathanfurlong