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Detroit — World-renowned street artist Shepard Fairey, the mastermind behind the massive mural going up on the outer wall of the former Compuware Building, discussed his work, environmental issues, capitalism, inspiration and a host of other topics during a visit to the city on Thursday.

Fairey also talked with students from the Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences and showed them examples of his work in his new gallery show called "Printed Matters" at the Library Street Collective at 1260 Library St. and in the alley behind it. The solo exhibition will run from May 22 through Aug. 15.

Opening a discussion on street and fine art, Fairey shared his history and background with students in the gallery. Fairey is widely known for his patriotic poster of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, the word "HOPE" emblazoned in bold colors, which became an icon of the 2008 campaign.

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Shepard Fairey, creator of the Obama "Hope" poster, talks about the mural he will be painting on the side of Detroit's Compuware Building. Brandy Baker

"I love beautiful decorative patterns," Fairey told the students, but added he uses the opulent designs to incorporate commentary on more challenging issues like the burning of fossil fuels, politics, peace and the planet. "The main thing about art: It's about 'doing.'"

Fairey told the admiring students that if he wasn't meeting with them, he would be across the street finishing what will be his largest mural to date: a 184-foot-by-60-foot opus crafted on the outer wall of One Campus Martius. A painting crew worked on the mural Thursday in his absence.

Bedrock Real Estate Services and Meridian Health, co-owners of the One Campus Martius building, and Library Street Collective commissioned the substantial Fairey mural.

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