Shephard Fairey: The Power Of The Language Of Image

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Shephard Fairey is an artist who created the iconic “Hope” poster for presidential candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race. It featured a portrait of Presidential Candidate Obama in red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag. We will later see the power of the use of these colors, but now we must simply understand that they represent America and American ideals. Fairey has been brought back into the political world with his three poster series created to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration as President in 2017. Each of his posters features a portrait of woman of color also done in the American red, white, and blue motif. Before we can rhetorically analyze these posters, we must first define some crucial terms that allow us to better understand the symbolic language of images. For the purposes of this paper, consubstantiality is a shared meaning attached to a word or image held by a group of people. Consubstantiality is often found among people who share a visual culture. Visual culture is images used in a culture to enforce, re-enforce, or denounce ideology held by that unique culture. Within visual culture, consubstantiality helps create a rhetorical tool known as the ideograph. The ideograph is a term or image that functions like an icon, but is more universal, having been estranged from any literal meaning without becoming arbitrary.

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