Nina Chanel Abney’s Jordan Brand Collab Combines Art and Athletics
For Nina Chanel Abney, art has always been a way to tell stories and reflect on the world around her – the good and the bad, the provocative and the pedestrian. In her works, she fought police brutality and confronted racism in America, pondered leaving the city in favor of a bigger yard and access to the outdoors, and imagined a queer black utopia. They’re often “information overload,” as she puts it, but they’re engaging and evocative nonetheless.
Since 2007, each of his works – whether scenes painted on canvas or figures taken from them and transformed into figurines – have contributed to a signature style that draws from graphic, cubist and muralist influences, which yields pieces that are equal parts “abstraction and representation,” she says. The resulting projects are also hugely popular, given that she has had solo exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo and the Chicago Cultural Center, per example, and has appeared in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum, among others.
Her popularity has also pushed her beyond the confines of the traditional art world: she has created an UNO deck of cards with Mattel, a custom pitch for the FIFA video game franchise, and patches for the backs of leather jackets. jeans made by Peanuts (Snoopy, Charlie Brown, etc.) and STORY, a pop-up store concept. Now she’s collaborating with Jordan on a five-piece unisex apparel collection and her own signature colorways of the Nike Jordan 2 and Jordan 2 Low.
The garments – a hoodie, baseball jersey, sports bra, pants and cropped socks – feature iconic Jordan brand imagery reinterpreted through Abney’s lens. A legendary photo of Michael Jordan cradling the Larry O’Brien trophy transitions into an angular center logo on a soft fleece hoodie. On the back there are references to the year, the brand, of course, and basketball in general.
For footwear, Abney elevates both the original Jordan 2 and its low-top iteration. Using plain white luxe leather uppers and pops of colored leather (Malachite and Gym Red, respectively), she stripped both styles down to their essence, creating versions of both shoes that I would say appeal to more than people. The shoe was never necessarily forgotten, just neglected, but the late Virgil Abloh, Union’s Chris Gibbs and now Nina Chanel are giving it new life.
The full collection — both sneakers included — drops July 8 at 6:00 a.m. EDT.
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