Sneaker Culture

The High Museum of Art presents “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” (June 11 through Aug. 14, 2016), the first museum exhibition in the United States to examine the complex and fascinating social history and design evolution of the sneaker, from its origins in the mid-19th century to its role in the present day as a symbol of urban culture and marker of masculine identity.

“The Rise of Sneaker Culture” features more than 150 sneakers, including iconic and incredibly rare shoes from the 1830s to today, some of which have never been publicly exhibited. Originating at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, the touring exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts (AFA) in collaboration with the Bata Shoe Museum (BSM) and is curated by Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator of BSM.

The featured sneakers are drawn from the archives of manufacturers such as Adidas, Converse, Nike, Puma and Reebok; the collections of the Bata Shoe Museum,Kosow Sneaker Museum and Northampton Museums and Art Gallery; and private collectors such as hip-hop legend Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, sneaker guru Bobbito Garcia, and Dee Wells of Obsessive Sneaker Disorder. Highlights include an 1860s spiked running shoe, an original 1923 Converse All Star/Non Skid, a 1936 track shoe similar to those worn by Olympian Jesse Owens, an original Nike Air Force 1 and early Adidas Superstars. Also featured are sneakers by Prada and other major fashion design houses as well as contemporary sneaker collaborations with prominent figures such as Damien Hirst, Jeff Staple and Kanye West.

Foamposite Anfernee Hardaway

Significant works from the archives of Nike include sneakers spanning the career of design legend Tinker Hatfield and a complete presentation of Air Jordans I–XX3,which highlights the role this coveted series of shoes has played in the rise of contemporary sneaker culture.The shoe selections are richly contextualized with film footage, interactive media, photographs and design drawings, creating a narrative of the social history, technical innovation, fashion trends and marketing campaigns that have shaped the sneaker over the past two centuries.


Film Screening:“Sneakerheadz” Friday, July 22, 2016 7 to 9p.m. In their documentary film “Sneakerheadz,”co-directors David T. Friendly and Mick Partridge pose the question, “How did sneakers become prized as collectible art?” From the shores of California to the streets of Tokyo, “Sneakerheadz”examines the cultural influence of sneaker collecting around the world and delves into a subculture whose proud members don’t just want to admire art, they want to wear it. This program is free with half-price Museum admission and free for members. Tickets available at or by calling the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office at 404-733-5000.

Panel Discussion: Where Are the Women in Sneaker Design? With Speakerfoxxx & Bosco in concert Friday, Aug. 5, 20167 to 8 p.m.  Rich Theatre.

8:30 to 10 p.m. Music, Sifly Piazza. Don’t miss an evening exploring the female side of sneaker design. Hear from New York designer Sophia Chang on her recent sneaker collaboration with Puma and Los Angeles designer Melody Ehsani on her collaboration with Reebok. After the talk, grab a drink and dance to the beats of Speakerfoxxx and Bosco on the Sifly Piazza. $10 for not-yet members, $5 for students, free for members.Tickets available at http://www.high.orgor by calling the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office at 404-733-5000.


-TPR Team

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