The artist behind the iconic Hope print used in Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Shepard Fairey has unveiled his most ambitious work yet, a 15-story mural of Johnny Cash in Sacramento to honour the 50th anniversary of Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison.
As part of the Wide Open Walls festival, Fairey along with his assistants completed the impressive piece on the side of the Residence Inn by Marriott over the span of a week, for 11 hours each day.
The fire red, orange and yellow graphic was based on a photo by famed music photographer Jim Marshall that Fairey originally used in his American Civics series.
The mural not only serves as a tribute to the country legend, but also to one of Cash’s most personal causes, prison reform. Fairey shared in a statement:
“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.”
The street artist also shared that he will be selling prints of the mural through Toyroom Gallery in Sacramento and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the prison reform non-profit Cut 50, whose aim is to get bipartisan support to “reduce America’s prison population by 50 percent”.
During his career, Johnny Cash played almost 30 prison concerts over a 20-year period, resulting in his iconic albums: Live at Folsom Prison and Live at San Quentin.
He also testified before Congress in 1972, about prison conditions he observed during his performances. Cash stated in his testimony before the Subcommittee on National Penitentiaries saying, “I have seen and heard of things at some of the concerts that would chill the blood of the average citizen. But I think possibly the blood of the average citizen needs to be chilled in order for change to come about”.