‘The Rise of Sneaker Culture’ Exhibit Debuts At Toledo Museum Of Art

Rise of Sneaker Culture
Nike x Supreme Dunk High Pro SB, 2003. Collection of Sheraz Amin.
Ron Wood, courtesy American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum.

The Toledo Museum of Art is getting is getting its kicks with the debut of “The Rise of Sneaker Culture,” an exhibit tracing the evolution of sneakers from the 1830s to today. The traveling exhibit is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Bata Shoe Musuem.

Included in the show are approximately 160 shoes from contemporary sneaker collaborations with such artists and designers as Damien Hirst, Jeff Staple and Kanye West.

“‘The Rise of Sneaker Culture’ is an exhibition that everyone can connect with because we all wear sneakers,” said Brian Kennedy, director of the museum. “We’re delighted to present an exhibition that’s as fun as it is informative and culturally relevant.”

Among the shoes in the show are a complete set of Air Jordans I-XX3, 1936 track shoes worn by Jesse Owens, the original Air Firce 1 and early Adidas Superstar, as well as sneakers and related prototype drawings spanning the careers of Nike sneaker design legends Tinker Hatfield, Eric Avar and Tobe Hatfield.

Rise of Sneaker Culture Converse Gripper, late 1940s-early 1950s. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum. Photo: Ron Wood, courtesy American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum.

In addition to the exhibit, the museum is sponsoring a series of events that kick off on Jan. 2 with an celebration that invites the public to put on their best pair of sneakers and dance for the evening. On Jan. 7 is Build Your Outfit: Sneaker Fashion Show, where attendees are encouraged to pull together their finest sneaks-to-cap look. On Jan. 16, sneaker collector Ben Ewy, director of the Hamilton Way for Charhartt, will present a talk on his insights on 2,500 years of fashion and footwear. Lastly, on Feb. 4, the 2015 documentary, “Sneakerheadz,” examining the cultural influence of sneaker-collecting around the world, will be shown.

The traveling exhibit, which runs through Feb. 28, 2016 in Toledo, will then make stops at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta from June 12 to Aug. 14 and then the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., from Sept. 9 to Nov. 27.

Nike x Tom Sachs, NikeCraft Lunar Underboot Aeroply Experimentation Research Boot Prototype, 2008-12. Nike x Tom Sachs, NikeCraft Lunar Underboot Aeroply Experimentation Research Boot Prototype, 2008-12. Collection of the artist, courtesy American Federation of Arts.