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The new Shepard Fairey mural 'Raise the Level' is a message of hope

Amsterdam, 10 August 2023

A public-space mural by the internationally influential American street artist and activist Shepard Fairey now adorns the STRAAT Museum in Amsterdam. In the gigantic work (14 x 14.8 m | 46 feet high and 48.5 feet wide) Raise the Level on the museum's impressive side wall, the artist calls attention to improving the dire state of our planet and makes an appeal for us to work together to do so. With this gift to Amsterdam, Fairey sends a message of hope: the great challenges facing the world call for harmony and connection. For this mural, the street artist - world famous for his Barack Obama HOPE campaign poster - collaborated with Amsterdam graffiti legend Niels 'Shoe' Meulman. In addition to the mural, Fairey has created a work for the permanent STRAAT collection. From 13 August to 1 October 2023, the major solo exhibition Printed Matters: Raise the Level, featuring more than 130 artworks, will also be on display at the STRAAT Gallery.

Shepard Fairey about the new mural: ‘Raise the Level is my new mural in Amsterdam, inspired by a peace and harmony-themed fine art piece I created for my show at the STRAAT Museum. I added elements to the mural to reinforce the themes related to the need for harmony between humans and the planet. I also incorporated a collaborative section with my friend Niels "Shoe" Meulman, an Amsterdam native and artist behind the Calligraffiti movement. This mural showcases my usual bold graphic style but adds painterly expressive flourishes, complementing Shoe's calligraphy. The aesthetic also references the organic layering of paint and posters on the streets, which is both beautiful and ephemeral.’

Celebrating a global art form

The involvement of Amsterdam artist Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman (b. 1967) adds an extra touch to the mural project. Shoe's association with Amsterdam is deeply rooted in his work, essentially embodying the creative spirit of the city. With this collaboration, the STRAAT Museum brings together two extraordinary artistic legacies and demonstrates its deep commitment to supporting and celebrating this global art form.

Solo exhibition Printed Matters: Raise the Level 

Printed Matters: Raise the Level presents work largely aimed at improving the dire state of our planet. The phrase "raise the level" alludes to a variety of matters, including the necessity of raising awareness of the consequences of burning fossil fuels and of climate change, the fact that global warming is causing sea levels to rise and that the time for action is now. In other words: “raise the level” to save the earth.    


Shepard Fairey’s solo exhibition at STRAAT also addresses other urgent subjects, such as nationalism, xenophobia, war, fake news and threats to democracy. Fairey uses familiar symbols, portraits and texts to appeal to viewers through his work, and to involve them in a dialogue on the relevant issues. 


Shepard Fairey: I hope the public will be inspired to pay attention to these issues and take action. Apathy is largely fueled by dread and feelings of powerlessness, but I hope my work will sow the seed of the idea that art can be a galvanizing and joyful form of communication and activism, that shapes a culture in both bold and subtle ways.”


About Shepard Fairey 

Shepard Fairey was born in Charleston (South Carolina) on 15 February 1970. He attended the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1992. In 1989 he created the “Andre the Giant has a Posse” sticker as a fortunate accident while teaching a friend how to make a stencil. Beginning as a street campaign, it transformed into the OBEY GIANT art campaign, with imagery that has changed how people see art and the urban landscape. The stickers spread like wildfire in the USA and were ultimately seen around the world. Fairey became a very influential name in the rising skateboard and street art culture. His work can now be seen in, among other places, the Smithsonian in Washington DC, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the MoMA in New York, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. The influence of skateboarding and street art is still tangible in his work. He currently lives in Los Angeles. 


About STRAAT Museum 

STRAAT is the museum of street art and graffiti. In a huge hangar building on the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam, more than 160 giant works of art are exhibited. These have been made on-site by international artists. The collection is frequently expanded, giving visitors the chance to see artists at work. Printed Matters: Raise the Level can be seen at the STRAAT Gallery, the gallery area of the STRAAT Museum. At the gallery, STRAAT tells stories focused on the diversity and popularity of international street art and graffiti culture. Work is also available for purchase. 


Note to the editor (not for publication) 

For more information and/or interviews, please contact Heidi Vandamme: | +31 (0)6 295 32 686. 


STRAAT  Museum

NDSM-Plein 1

1033 WC  Amsterdam

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