Graffiti artist Shepard Fairey’s message was heard loud and clear in the silence of a Sanford, Fla. courtroom during the search of an impartial jury for the George Zimmerman trial.
On the first day of jury duty, a Seminole County teen wore one of Fairey’s trendy black caps with the “OBEY” logo known worldwide. When it was his turn to be questioned in the courtroom Thursday, the recent high-school graduate wore an "OBEY" tank top.
“I can’t help but see that you have something written on your shirt,” said defense attorney Don West, who looked puzzled in a navy blue jacket and tangerine orange tie.
Attorneys’ job during the pre-trial publicity part of the questioning is to peel away the layers of the potential jurors’ opinions and insights. They are also trained to look at what potential jurors convey in subtle ways.
“Did you choose the shirt, because of any particular message it conveys?”
“No … It’s just a clothing company,” said the boy identified as potential juror E75 to protect his identity.
“Oh! That’s the brand?” Zimmerman smiled and some in the courtroom chuckled.
It was more than just a brand. After Trayvon Martin died Feb. 26, 2012, Fairey -- whose portrait of President Barack Obama is hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. – painted a portrait of Trayvon that went viral on the web.
"I have followed Trayvon's case closely and I think any compassionate human being can relate to Trayvon as a brother or son,” Fairey said in a statement. Adding he wanted “to see a thorough investigation into the killing of an unarmed person.”
Fairey is a regular during Art Basel in Miami Beach and has left his iconic red, black and white collages on Miami’s Wynwood Walls, the artsy Wynwood Kitchen & Bar and has murals in cities all over the world.
Fairey “has always applied many of the principles of classic propaganda,” said Miami spray-paint artist Claudio Picasso, also known as CP1. “Often times he appropriates old propaganda images and mixes them in representations of pop icons.”
Time’s Ebony Magazine published Fairey’s Trayvon portrait on its May magazine cover in 2012 and the portrait was all over Instagram and was seen in protests around the country through the summer. Fairey’s work has also been seen during Occupy Wall Street protests.
Fairey is a self-proclaimed student of "the teachings of political propaganda," Picasso said.
Fairey said he wanted “to emphasize Trayvon's humanity as well as the public outcry for a just investigation into his death.”