Johnny Cash is one of my favorite musicians and also one of my favorite storytellers and social commentators. Cash felt compassion for the less fortunate, and I think his religious beliefs shaped his view that no human being is beyond redemption. He played live shows at San Quentin Prison and at Folsom Prison (where Jim Marshall shot the photograph that inspired my art piece) to do something kind for the inmates but also to draw attention to mass incarceration.
In this image, I wanted to capture Cash's iconic nature as well as the harsh exterior of Folsom Prison; Cash was fortunate enough to be standing outside rather than inside of this prison wall. Prisoners and prison rights are often looked over, and I felt it was important to incorporate news clippings and graphics relating to their difficulties and raise awareness. The United States has the highest incarceration rate on the planet, with almost 25 percent of the world's total prison population.
--Shepard Fairey, April 2016