The piece of media I decided to deconstruct is an original poster by artist, Shepard Fairey. Shepard Fairey, a Charleston native, is the artist most famous for his Obama Hope campaign posters and Obey Andre the Giant stickers and clothing. Many College of Charleston students and faculty should be familiar with his “Green Energy, Power and Glory” mural painted on the College Lodge on Calhoun Street.
The poster is titled “As Above So Below”, a piece that he did in 2016. It’s a picture of two Earths that appear to be splitting apart. The Earth that is on top is engulfed in flames and the Earth at the bottom appears to be underwater. I believe that the globe that is on top is supposed to represent how we are burning up our atmosphere with greenhouse gases. The caption at the bottom of the picture reads “AS ABOVE SO BELOW”. Shepard Fairey uses this title to state that what we do to the air will also have affect us on the ground. There are only shades of blue in this image, probably to insinuate that we will all be underwater if nothing is done to stop global warming. This picture is meant to warn or rather scare its viewers of the reality that is global climate change. The image of Earth on fire is fairly simple to interpret by viewers of all ages. The fire isn’t overly violent or painted in such a way as to repulse its viewers. The artist has a tendency of using repetitive floral designs in many of his paintings and this piece is no exception. I believe he does this in order to attract the viewer’s eyes and instill a feeling of happiness and peace. This is meant to happen after the viewer is initially shocked by the main focus of the poster which is something terrifying. Another reason for the subtle floral print in the background could be to warn its viewers that all the beauty the earth is able to provide for us will be lost due to our negative impact on the planet.
It’s important to note that this piece is part of a series entitled “Earth Crisis”. The artist is very aware that climate change is a threat to us all and started this series around the same time Donald Trump, a climate change denier, was elected president. I believe the artist named the series “Earth Crisis” because if the President of the United States, arguably the most powerful man in the world, doesn’t believe in climate change, then the state of our planet is in trouble. Another important thing to note about the artist is that his works are mass produced and distributed in the forms of stickers and posters. This is a way Shepard Fairey allows his fans to participate in spreading his message. The original “As Above So Below” poster is 28” by 40”, but can be mass produced in the form of a sticker that can be seen on any given street light pole. Some people may consider this a form of propaganda, but the message isn’t revolving around any political point of view. The message is for everyone to be informed of the dangers of climate change.