The Institute of Contemporary Art
(ICA) and Boston Chapter of the AIGA, the professional association for design, present “Design as Social Agent,” a daylong event on Saturday, April 4 from 10 am to 5 pm. Bringing together speakers from the fields of design, street art, music and politics, the event frames Shepard Fairey’s work within the context of grassroots civic action, punk rock and 80’s graffiti and skate culture. A series of presentations, conversations and gallery talks will explore how concepts of appropriation, plagiarism, legality and process have been exploded.
Tickets for each of the five mainstage talks are $25 or $15 for ICA and AIGA members as well as students and seniors. Ticket holders will have free access to additional programs, including gallery talks, and presentations in the Bank of American Art Lab on a first-come first-served basis. In addition, anyone who purchases tickets to all five mainstage talks will receive free admission to an upcoming ICA public talk or AIGA program, subject to availability. Tickets can be purchased at www.icaboston.org or by calling (617) 478-3103.
Mainstage Talks in the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater
10 am Culture and Resistance
With Kevin Grady, Caleb Neelon, PIXNIT and Elizabeth Resnick
Shepard Fairey's work distills many elements, drawing from the seemingly distinct worlds of music, skate culture, street art, graphic design, and fine art. Designer Kevin Grady, and Boston-based street artists Caleb Neelon and PIXNIT provide a cultural orientation to frame Fairey's work, while designer, design curator and author Elizabeth Resnick explores how his work fits into a diverse and powerful history of dissent in design.
11:30 am Elegant Dissent and Anarchy
With Elliot Earls
Designer Elliott Earls presents his perspective on establishment and anarchy. How does one visualize dissent? It can take the form of a sophisticated challenge to dominant ideologies-political, religious, or cultural-or the opposite: an anti-establishment counterculture with no message. How are people responding to or acting on these images? Are designers defined by a "design canon" which determines the way they operate? Should they look beyond traditional sources of inspiration or court contradiction and chaos to produce relevant, resonant, and prescient design?
12:45 pm The Obama Effect: What Art Did for Advertising
With Pete Favat and Nicholas Blechman
“OBEY GIANT" and the subsequent "Obama HOPE" poster catapulted Fairey's work into the worlds of politics, corporations, and the mainstream media. These images were consumed and disseminated by people across the globe with startling voracity, and the establishment changed their thinking and their strategies for communicating with people previously "unreachable." Pete Favat, Arnold Advertising's Chief Creative Officer, and Nicholas Blechman, Nozone designer and New York Times Book Review art director, discuss how guerrilla marketing has taken hold and what it means for the way artists, designers, and the media operate.
2 pm Iron Fists: Branding in the 20th-Century Totalitarian State
With Steve Heller
Iron Fists: Branding the 20th Century Totalitarian State, the first illustrated survey of the propaganda art, graphics, and artifacts of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Communist regimes of the USSR and China, explores how these regimes succeed in influencing the minds of millions. Former New York Times art director, award-winning designer, author, curator, and editor Steve Heller illustrates how the elements of visual language-imagery, typeface, color palette-were used to "sell" the totalitarian message.
3:30 pm Something Borrowed Something True
With Kevin Grady, Steve Heller, Nicholas Blechman and Elliot Earls
Is appropriation an effective means for subversion? Kevin Grady moderates a panel discussion with designers Steve Heller, Nicholas Blechman, and Elliott Earls, examining the success of new images in comparison to subverted or altered familiar ones. What defines this practice as a design tool, and what could it suggest for the way design develops? Who defines the fine line between appropriation and plagiarism?
Each of the above talks is ticketed separately. Tickets are $25 or $15 for ICA and AIGA members.