Artist's Statement: Nicola Green on the trail of Barack Obama at Liverpool's Walker

By Ben Miller | 14 January 2013
A profile photo of a young female artist staring into the camera

Artist's Statement: Nicola Green on her Barack Obama-inspired show in Liverpool...

“The Walker Art Gallery exhibition is the first European showing of In Seven Days..., my series of silkscreen prints telling the story of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

“I originally set out to create a portrait of Obama, thinking about the possible implications his campaign may have upon future generations, including those of my own mixed race sons.

A photo of a blue silkscreen print showing a series of hands gesturing inside a circle
Day 1© Nicola Green
“After my first trip in August 2008, witnessing Obama’s nomination in Denver, I realised that the story unfolding was bigger than one visit or one man: it had captured the imagination of the global community as well as the American people.

“I went on to make six trips to America during the campaign, ending in Obama’s inauguration in January 2009.

“These seven iconic images are a distillation of all the photographs, sketches and conversations I made during those visits.

Light was inspired by my trip to the Democratic National Convention in the Mile High Stadium, Denver, in August 2008.

“There were 70,000 people in the stadium doing a Mexican wave when Obama accepted the nomination.

“It was an extraordinary movement of energy, timing and coming together, both in America and around the world.

Struggle shows Obama’s hand, sketched during a rainy night in a New Hampshire gym at a rally in 2008.

An image of a silkscreen of a gold clenched fist against a light purple background
Day 2© Nicola Green
“At this time, victory seemed very far away; the effort to get to this point and the struggle ahead felt overwhelming.

“I kept thinking about how each of us has to find our power through our identity. This image is about the value and strength in that struggle.

Hope is my tribute to the American people. It is drawn from all the events and rallies I attended in this election, and the quiet, patient hope I saw there.

“Some people had been waiting generations for this moment; others queued in the rain for hours and hours. Everyone was watching.

Change was born from a remarkable photograph I was able to capture in Philadelphia on what the team dubbed Barnstorming Day – an event which involved four rallies over four hours in all four corners of the city.

“The photograph was taken at about 7am in the cold, clear light just after dawn.  

An image of a silkscreen of an outstretched arm in orange against a red background
Day 7© Nicola Green
Fear was inspired by a press conference I attended in early January 2009. It is Obama’s viewpoint – always looking out into a sea of cameras.

“This is not just about the media pack; it is about all of us, and what we really want from this story.

Sacrifice/Embrace is a distillation of my experiences in Chicago on the night Obama was elected President.

“He was embracing a new beginning, but it was also a moment of sacrifice as he prepares to become the most powerful man in the world.

“It was important to me that this part of the cycle was not an image of triumph or a happy ending.

“It does not signal completion of anything – this was the beginning of a long road.

Peace shows how, at Inauguration, the President represents everyone in America.

“Used by 43 presidents before him, this gesture is a sign of acceptance and an image of inclusion that refers back to day one.”

  • In Seven Days... opens at the Walker Art Gallery on January 18 2013. Nicola will be in conversation at the gallery in a free talk on the opening day – see the event page for full details.
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