June 18, 2020
For the first time in decades, Stamps alumnus Shane Ward (BFA ’96) has put paint to canvas. He turned to this media as a way to create personal artwork in the midst of the pandemic. Ward, a shoe designer and G-III Apparel Group’s creative director for the men’s footwear division, was inspired to paint the Air Jordan 1 because of the shoe’s iconicism and the spirit of the shoe’s namesake, Michael Jordan. Ward’s work and inspiration were featured in an article on footwearnews.com.
“Set on 40″ x 60″ repurposed canvas, that same canvas he painted on over 20 years ago, Ward created the Air Jordan 1 detailed with cherry blossoms….
‘I admire what the Jordan 1 stands for as a product. It’s so simple in its form that you can try to redesign it but it’s perfect that way it is. This shoe is not just the most iconic athletic shoe — it’s the most iconic shoe of human kind and the fact that it was designed by my mentor, Peter Moore, made it all the more meaningful.’ Ward continued, ‘When I first started off as a very naive kid from Detroit and going to work for Adidas, Peter Moore was the creative director and he was such a champion of creativity and design and I admired him so much. So, [with the painting], I wanted to pay homage to his contribution to footwear.’
The idea of the cherry blossoms then came naturally as Ward spent time in Japan as a child and has continued to travel to Tokyo over the years for design inspiration. But the inspiration behind the flowers goes much deeper.
‘The idea is that things we collect, whether it’s fashion, cars, jewelry, it’s here today but it can be gone tomorrow,’ he said. ‘It’s so impermanent that the wind can blow it away as we’re always on to the next thing. That’s why the shoe is floating away, but what stays is the legacy that can never forgotten.’
In the midst of creating this piece, ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary, “The Last Dance,” coincidentally made its debut, which only made Ward more passionate about his art and connection to Jordan, the athlete.
‘He was so driven to winning championships and he did it all costs because of his desire to be the best. That resonated,’ said Ward. ‘Growing up as a poor kid and dealing with the shame of needing food stamps, there was an innate drive in myself to get out of that predicament. I really connected with his spirit.’
For Ward, showing that juxtaposition of a hardcore athletic shoe with the ethereal beauty and frailty of cherry blossoms, similar to Jordan and the beauty behind his purpose, was key to the meaning behind his artwork.”