In August 2018, Shepard Fairey together with his crew completed a 15-story Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison mural in Sacramento in collaboration with Wide Open Walls and Branded Arts. This mural is Shepard largest’s mural in the state of California and his most technically ambitious mural ever. The art is based on a photo by Jim Marshall(left photo) which Shepard used originally as part of his American Civic series (right photo).
Shepard created this image on such a large scale as a tribute for the 50th anniversary of Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison album in the hope to ignite a conversation around the need for incarceration reform.
To celebrate the 2018Best Music On Walls mural, we had the chance to discuss with Shepard Fairey about his vision of Johnny Cash’s legacy in today’s world.
Shepard Fairey - Walk The Line, 2015
MoW: Before starting the Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison mural, how did you envision the social impact that your representation of Johnny Cash could generate on the public?
SF: I’ve been a fan of Johnny Cash for a long time, but it was when I made the poster for the movie “Walk the Line” (see right) that I really started to delve into Cash’s social commentary and especially his sympathy for underdogs like the incarcerated. I’ve become more and more concerned with criminal justice issues, and I saw the 50th anniversary of the release of Johnny Cash Live at Fulsom Prison as a perfect opportunity simultaneously celebrate a musical hero and bring attention to incarceration reform.
MoW : How do you see the music of Johnny Cash inspiring a change in our world 15 years after his death?
SF: The great thing about Johnny Cash’s songs is that they come across as human rather than politically partisan. Considering that country music is generally more conservative frequently, I see Cash’s music as a Trojan horse for progressive issues that are as relevant today as they were when Cash was still alive such as Native American rights, incarceration reform, the cost of war, alcoholism, and the challenges faced by those at the bottom of society.
MoW : What are your 5 favorite songs of Johnny Cash?
1. Folsom Prison Blues 2. A Boy Named Sue 3. One Piece at a Time 4. Man in Black 5. Ring of Fire
MoW : Have you planned to create any music inspired murals in 2019?
SF: Music inspires a lot of my art, so there may be more than one music-themed mural this year, but I know for sure I’ll be doing a mural of the band Queen.
MoW : What are the 10 songs you’ve liked the most lately?
1. The Rover, Interpol 2. Get Gone, Deap Vally 3. List of Demands, The Kills 4. Coup D'état, Circle Jerks 5. Surfin Dead, The Cramps 6. Moonage Daydream, David Bowie 7. Stone Cold Crazy, Queen 8. Fight the Power, Public Enemy 9. This is America, Childish Gambino 10. Rebel Girl, Bikini Kill
Thank you so much Shepard Fairey for keeping the memory and legacy of Johnny Cash (born J.R. Cash, February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) alive. And congratulations again for winning the 2018Best Music On Walls mural.
2018 was a great year for the world of Art and Music and we are really excited about what 2019 will bring us! We would like to thank every person who voted for our 2018Best Music On Walls mural and for the constant support.
Make sure to check out this video by Zane Meyer of Chop'em Down Films (with additional clips by Derek Hackett & Jeremey Ramirez).
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Music On Walls promotes visual artworks inspired by music.