Shepard Fairey Wants the World to Know That #ArtsMatter in Our Schools

The famous artist has become part of the widest-reaching art project in L.A. history.

Original work by Shepard Fairey will appear on buses, billboards, bus shelters, and other types of outdoor media throughout Los Angeles. (Photo: Create Your Future, 2013. © Shepard Fairey)

Jul 23, 2013
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.

Starting today, Los Angelenos will catch a glimpse of the newest artwork from famed street artist Shepard Fairey

This time, the artist isn't promoting a political candidate or drawing attention to a social movement. Instead, together with the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education, his art is being displayed on billboards and buses across the city to send the message that arts matter in our schools.

In a city with creativity at its core, it's hard to believe that only two percent of instructional time for elementary school kids is devoted to the arts.

"For some reason, as a country, we have decided that the arts should be the first to be eliminated," Megan Chernin, the founding CEO of the LA Fund, said.

In Los Angeles alone, arts education funding has dropped by 76 percent since the 2007-2008 school year. Countrywide, there are nearly four million elementary school kids who receive no arts education at all.

"I can't imagine that a kid would have to go through their K-12 education without the arts," Chernin said.

This is why the LA Fund launched #ArtsMatter, an innovative public outreach effort designed to bring the city together in support of arts education. Fairey's art, entitled Create Your Future, is the third flight of original works for #ArtsMatter.

To get inspiration, he asked kids in the Los Angeles Public School system to tell him what their lives could look like without limits.

Their answers propelled him to focus his art on the themes of empowerment and future possibilities through creativity. "He wants the students to grow to see the possibilities they might not see presently," according to the LA Fund.

You'll notice five symbols on the artwork. Here is what they mean:

Plug/Leaf: Green energy and human harmony with the environment
Airplane: Travel as part of freedom
Peace: Diplomacy before aggression
Hand and Flame: The spark and power of creativity
Diamond: Material and financial success, an aspiration that seems unattainable to many and contributes to low self-esteem.

The LA Fund has already made an impact within the Los Angeles Public School system. The organization gave the school district a $750,000 grant to integrate arts into the curriculum. This is a step in the right direction; and hopefully, Fairey's artwork will propel the movement even further.

Show Comments ()

More on TakePart

Project Katrina: A Decade of Resilience in New Orleans