We are working on a collaborations page, but in the meantime, I am going to repost a blog post remembering and recapping We Are Lions’ collaboration with My Morning Jacket.
I am very excited to officially announce We Are Lions’ (WAL) collaboration with My Morning Jacket (MMJ). It was a long time in the works and extraordinarily difficult to keep quiet but very exciting for all of us to be a part of.
I want to first start by saying the entire My Morning Jacket organization—from management to members to fans—are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Everyone is incredibly honest, humble, and excited to be a part of the art. It has been such a fun experience for me, personally, I cannot thank everyone enough for the journey thus far. Roar loud, baby!
I met the band over the summer of 2015 with my friend, Dan, when they played a three-night run at the Chicago Theater. I was pretty anxious meeting them. It's kind of hard not to when you meet some of your musical heroes, but they instantly curbed my nervousness with hugs, conversation, and kindness. It was f***ing awesome. From there, We Are Lions and My Morning Jacket built a relationship that is one of the coolest formed to date.
We Are Lions' mission is to unite people. My Morning Jacket (amongst many other tremendous musicians) achieves this goal on a daily basis. Together, we wanted to come up with a creative way to fuse our collective goals to create opportunities for people with disabilities. That brings us here.
My Morning Jacket asked us to design a limited edition We Are Lions poster. The entire We Are Lions community came together to create original interpretations of MMJ's most recent album, The Waterfall.
As many My Morning Jacket fans know, the posters released in their name are nothing short of incredible (kudos to all the featured artists in the past and in the future) so it was really exciting that the band put their faith in the We Are Lions community. As a result, the collaboration has been rockin' for everyone involved.
We got a ton of amazing artwork that we’re going to share below, but our good friend and artist, James Frye, designed the final My Morning Jacket poster. The poster was for sale exclusively on our website for $60. There was a limited 200 printed, each signed and numbered by James Frye, and the entire band! Each poster was a double-sided print that included the artwork, James' biography, and a special note from We Are Lions.
Visual artist, James Frye, hand sketches wildly vibrant electronic documents in an abstract style that are transferred to canvas for hanging. At the age of 3 1/2, James was diagnosed as a person on the Autism Spectrum. Autism is a social/communication disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication. James is also a Synesthetes, he has the ability to hear colors. James Frye declared himself to be “An Artist!” when he graduated from High School. Wouldn’t it be something to just know your life work begins “Right Now!”? Wouldn’t it have been something more to know how you would be leaving your boldest thumbprint on the world so young?
Heavily influenced by his father’s love of vintage vinyl records, he has been listening to bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and other popular bands from the 60’s and 70’s – and his art demonstrates this. Progressive in his form, channeling a different era, a true “Futuristic Throwback”.
With his art, James moves beyond perceived communication limitations – he names his pieces very thoughtfully, and it is within these titles, where the words are, that is the place wherein the artist communicates.
James’ mother, Wendy, and I have built a long distance friendship through We Are Lions. She is an incredible advocate for James, but really, the good of mankind. I worked closely with Wendy throughout this project, and I asked her to share the experience. Below is what she shared.
“When David Schwartz of We Are Lions asked James to do a poster to reinterpret My Morning Jacket’s Waterfall cover art, we were of course past excited – and a little scared, too. You see, James has all creative freedom and had never been asked to create something specific. Well, he rose to the task, and became very, very involved in the idea. He studied the music, the website, watched YouTube videos, bought the album, listened to the album and incubated his creative thoughts for at least a week. Then he set about creating his version of The Waterfall.
Asking James about his favorite experience creating a poster to compliment My Morning Jacket’s Waterfall cover art, he replied: ‘Just raising the colors.'”
One of our partnering organizations, Little City Foundation, and its artists, took the project with great enthusiasm too. Lori Couvé’s rendition of Waterfall is noteworthy.
Unsurprisingly, she took to the Waterfall project instantly. Lori’s art, and her personal interest, is focused on nature. Animals, especially insects, plants and the natural environment are the subjects, which consume her. She is also an immensely talented draughtsman; able to convincingly render anything that comes to her mind. So it truly was not surprising when we asked her if she’d like to do something on the theme of Waterfall, and she immediately sat down and began drawing this fantastic landscape complete with all the appropriate flora and fauna. Lori does not usually need any help in the planning or execution of her art, and true to form there was no discussion preceding her work in this case either. In fact she is rather quiet in general, so not much was said in the couple of days she spent completing this work- at least there was not much said beyond her usual conversation about spiders and such. As the hours unfolded we watched as a blank piece of paper became ever more richly embellished by pen and brush.
I’m convinced that the resulting image is exactly what she had envisioned from the start. This is her talent, the ability to carry her original vision through to fruition, and it’s one that most artists would envy. Lori Couvé’s keen observational skills are apparent in her highly accomplished drawings and paintings. Preferring markers, pens and pencils for their precision, Couvé is known for her vivid depictions of animals, insects, landscapes and personal events. Although she is able to work straight from her imagination, when possible she likes to work from live models. She carries with her transparent plastic containers at all times, into which she places her insect models, releasing them back into the wild when she is finished. Lori’s artwork has been featured in numerous recent exhibitions, and she has also been commissioned to create a mural for Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium’s “Amazon Rising” exhibition. Lori’s attention for detail, along with her unerring ability to capture a whimsical mood, are qualities which naturally lend themselves to illustration. Her fanciful work has been featured on many of Little City’s greeting cards.
Below are just a few other submissions from Tony Laporte and John King.