For Nina Chanel Abney, art has always been a means to tell stories and to reflect on the world around her — the good and the bad, the provocative and the pedestrian. In her works, she's combatted police brutality and confronted racism in America, pondered moving out of the city in favor of a bigger yard and access to the outdoors and envisioned a queer Black utopia. They're often "information overload," as she's put it, but they're engaging and evocative nonetheless.
Since 2007, every one of her works — either painted scenes on canvas or characters taken from them and turned into figurines — has contributed to a signature style that pulls from graphic, cubist and muralist influences, which yields pieces that are equal parts "abstraction and representation," she says. The resulting projects are plenty popular, too, considering she's put on solo shows at the Palais de Tokyo and Chicago Cultural Center, for example, and appeared in group shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum, among others.
Her popularity has pushed her beyond the traditional art world's bounds, too: She made a set of UNO cards with Mattel, a custom pitch for the FIFA video game franchise and patches for the backs of denim jackets done by Peanuts (Snoopy, Charlie Brown, etc.) and STORY, a concept pop-up shop. 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 clothing — a hoodie, baseball jersey, sports bra, pants and crew socks — features iconic Jordan brand imagery reinterpreted through Abney's lens. A legendary photo of Michael Jordan cradling the Larry O'Brien trophy turns 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 at large.
For the 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's reduced both styles down to their essence, creating versions of both shoes that, I'd argue, are appealing to more people. The shoe was never necessarily forgotten, just overlooked, 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 on July 8th at 6:00 am EDT.