Viola Lasmana | Digitextualities

University of Southern California

Design like Shepard Fairey

I chose Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a political figure because it has been banned, and because some still want it banned today, arguing that the book is “a fictitious account set upon its real-life backdrop of slavery, and contain[s] gratuituos language, violence and sex acts that provide no historical context for the reader,” and that it is not worth reading because the language used is on the same level as Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. In other words, according to them, Beloved is a book fit to be read only by the uncouth or elementary school students with limited reading abilities.

This book tells the story of Beloved, the dead daughter of a slave who comes back as a ghost; the real ghost is, arguably, the ghost of slavery in America’s history. The book cover articulates this notion of the ineluctable past very evocatively, and also calls into attention the visibility and invisibility of slavery.

Both of the designs on the left and right sides of the image are Fairey’s — I scaled them down to a smaller size and layered them multiple times in order to achieve the effect of a myriad of flowers. I use dark and bold colors that Fairey likes to use, so black and red shades are the colors of choice for my interpretation of this image. I also wanted to have the classic Fairey rays somewhere in the image, and decided to incorporate it as a layer on part of the book cover — the exploding rays, while still a Fairey design, is also my interpretation of the explosion of the invisible into the visible (history making itself felt in the present; Beloved returning as a ghost in the liminal space of visibility and invisibility; making the repressed known, etc.). The rays are deliberately faded, as I wanted them to also occupy that liminal space of clarity and obfuscation.

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Teaching Writing in a Digital Age

exploring pedagogies of new media and literacies in composition


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