Sneakers have become a fixture of the art industry in recent years, with artists like Tom Sachs designing styles, new and vintage pairs alike selling for thousands of dollars at auction houses, and collectors cultivating their holdings of rarities.
Now, artist Lauren Halsey, who’s best known for architectural installations and sculptures focused on community and memory, particularly in her native South Los Angeles, is making her mark in the field through a collaboration with Nike.
Halsey was approached by the company to design a shoe while she was an artist-in-residence at the Los Angeles Athletic Club earlier this year, and she has been at work on a new shoe design for about 8 months.
The artist’s collection for Nike, which will be available starting December 7, comprises sneakers, socks, and t-shirts. The shoes are a remixed version of the brand’s Air Force 1 High style, which, in an interview with ARTnews, Halsey said she’s “worn for most of my life,” adding that, as a child, she’d “use them as a canvas” for spontaneous art projects.
“The process was very much about sitting with the Air Force 1 in an intimate way,” Halsey said of the project.
Halsey’s design for her “Summaeverythang” Air Force 1 includes several different materials, including patent leather, regular leather, and a velvet-like fabric. The shoes are different tones of black, but their laces are green and red, and the tabs on the front of the sneakers bear the words “Neighborhood,” “Autonomy,” “Pride,” and “Love.” The insole of the sneakers features a collage of images of Los Angeles architecture and people, with photos of the artist’s grandmother and cousins featured.
The artist said that the collage “pays homage to my family and friends who deeply inspire me,” adding that the photographs represent “a family portrait of sorts, and a thank you to them for what they’ve done for me.”
To mark the release of the sneaker on December 7, Halsey is organizing a community marketplace in Downtown Los Angeles, where musicians will perform and local vendors will sell their wares.
“In my dream world, it’s this shoe that energizes you,” Halsey said. “This shoe that gets you ready for the rest of the world, for the day.”
Next up for Halsey is her first solo exhibition with David Kordansky Gallery in L.A., which is set to open January 25 and will feature an entirely new body of sculptural work by the artist.