September 11, Artist Responsibility and Shepard Fairey

 I am procrastinating about cleaning my house and still recovering from jet lag, so I have been spending time with the newspaper and a lot of coffee this morning. Nine years since September 11 and it still feels like yesterday. I have so many friends and family in Manhattan and I can't help but think of them on this day every year. But for this particular anniversary, I've been thinking about how things have moved on...

That morning, nine years ago, after finally getting an email from my cousin who lives in Brooklyn and breathing a sigh of relief, I didn't know what else to do with myself so I went to school. I was finishing up my BFA at the time and the studio seemed like the most sane place for me to go with all my thoughts. We were all a bit like zombies wandering around. I think for a bunch of artists, NYC had a special place in all our hearts to begin with and we just didn't know the extent of what the people there were experiencing. I felt so far away and isolated, but safe in Canada and guilty about that. One of my professors told us that, as artists, we had a responsibility to make art about what we were feeling-- to help process our own sadness, to help share ideas and to find common ground with people through our work. I am sure he was trying to make us feel better but it always stuck with me, the idea that the artist has a responsibility to the viewer. I think that art, and artists, can really be that powerful and can help people heal; not just the artist, but the viewer too.

Some children's art that I photographed at a September 11 Memorial in Manhattan

So in doing all this remembering I started thinking of what has happened since September 11--how NYC is friendlier somehow, how words like "terrorism" and "ground zero" became part of everyone's venacular and how out of such a hateful act; compassion grew. For me I became more conscious of  my role as an artist on this planet and how blessed I am that I can be one. I can create what I need to in order to fulfill my responsibility and heal myself. It made me think of LA-based artist, Shepard Fairey, his Obey campaign and his current law suit with the Associated Press over his famed Obama Hope poster. Talk about an artist with a real understanding of his own responsibility and who totally owns it. Shepard Fairey is paving new ground for all us artists; validating what we do and our right to create. Find out how:  Iggy Pop's Interview with Shepard Fairey for Interview Magazine Online

Shepard Fairey poster in his awesome Russian constructivist style

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