What’s the meaning?

Bernie’s new t-shirt by Shep Fairey looks like a cross.

Devin Foley | February 18, 2016

Bernie’s new t-shirt by Shep Fairey looks like a cross.
What’s the meaning?

Shepard Fairey of OBEY Clothing and known politically for his famous Barack Obama “Hope” poster has thrown his support behind Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for president. 

In a video released by the Sanders campaign, Fairey said, “I’m supporting Bernie Sanders because I want to push principles, not personalities.”

With his support, he also released a t-shirt for the campaign. Here it is: 

I’m curious about the imagery and haven’t seen any commentary on it yet. Nor has Google produced anything of substance.

Shepard Fairey is not some random artist. What he does is done with purpose. As the OBEY Clothing website states:

“The OBEY campaign is rooted in the Do It Yourself counterculture of punk rock and skateboarding, but it has also taken cues from popular culture, commercial marketing and political messaging. Fairey steeps his ideology and iconography in self-empowerment. With biting sarcasm verging on reverse psychology, he goads viewers, using the imperative ‘obey,’ to take heed of the propagandists out to bend the world to their agendas.”

A quick glance at the t-shirt and it’s hard not to see a cross. In fact, for those who are Catholic, they may be reminded of a monstrance, which is a cross that holds the Eucharist in a circular chamber in the middle. Some even come with an angel at the base who is holding up the rest of the cross:

Maybe it’s a bit off, but is that the symbolism Fairey is going for? A sort of statement about Bernie offering political salvation through the federal government?

Politically, it wouldn’t be the first time Christian imagery has been used in populist, political causes in the U.S. Recall William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech in 1896 or President Roosevelt’s first inaugural address in 1933, which referenced him driving out the money changers as the New Testament has Christ doing in the Temple.

If you have thoughts or more details, please feel free to bring clarity or correction in the comments. 



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