Maine artist creates HOPE image decades after LOVE

Sunday, August 31, 2008

PORTLAND, Maine -- The Maine artist who brought LOVE to the world is doing the same with HOPE.

Robert Indiana decades ago created the pop icon LOVE, known worldwide with its letters stacked two to a line, the letter "o" tilted on its side. Now he has created a similar image with HOPE, with proceeds going to Democrat Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

A stainless steel sculpture of the image was unveiled this week outside the Pepsi Center at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The campaign is selling T-shirts, pins, bumper stickers and other items adorned with HOPE.

Indiana would like to see his latest work become a symbol of newfound hope for Americans, and thinks an Obama presidency could bring just that.

"There might be a chance we survive eight years of Bush, I don't know. That's where the hope comes in," he said in a phone interview from his home on Vinalhaven, an island off the Maine coast.

An Obama campaign spokeswoman said Indiana's creation fits in well with Obama's vision.

"Barack Obama's message of hope has inspired Americans all across the country, and we couldn't imagine a more fitting place for Robert Indiana to unveil his HOPE sculpture than at the convergence of this movement for change in Denver," said spokeswoman Moira Mack.

The McCain campaign had no comment Friday on the Obama campaign's use of the image.

Indiana, 79, is a pop artist whose work often features simple, iconic images using short words and numbers. His best-known work is LOVE, which he designed for a Christmas card for The Museum of Modern Art in 1964.

Few pop images are more widely known than LOVE, which has appeared worldwide in sculptures, prints and paintings. The U.S. Postal Service featured it on a stamp in 1973, selling 333 million of them, Indiana said.

Indiana said he has been fooling around with the word "hope" for a number of years. But it wasn't until Obama came along -- with his message of hope and his book "The Audacity of Hope" -- that Indiana turned it into a work of art.

"It's really a brother to LOVE, or a sister or a very close family member," he said.

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