MAKE AMERICAN COOL AGAIN (Ep04): in New York with Nina Chanel Abney


It’s all about the United States with the presidential elections in full swing so Sneaker Spirit is exploring up-and-coming designers in America. Let’s head to New York with the artist Nina Chanel Abney whose stylised, pop and colourful paintings give an honest portrayal of what’s happening in American society and get people talking.

It’s a big day for an election that’s decisive for both America and the world. As the exciting battle between Joe Biden and Donald Trump plays out before our eyes, countless artists and celebrities, from Beyoncé to Hailey Bieber, have highlighted how important it is for their fellow Americans to vote. Nina Chanel and the Social Status sneakers shop did the same when they joined forces with Converse on October 27th. Inspired by Joe Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, the blue, white and red Converse Chuck Taylor 70s bear the inscription 2020 with a heart. Nina Chanel’s colourful pins on the shoes highlight issues such as climate change, Black Lives Matter and the importance of voting.

Nina Chanel Abney was born in 1982 in Harvey, Illinois. She was raised by two aunts, her grandfather and mother. Her biological father wasn’t really in the picture for years. Karla, her mother, was something of a painter. “One day I found her oil paints in the basement, so I started to play around with that,” she told Vanity Fair US. She went to different high schools and colleges before her talent for art really took shape when she enrolled at Augustana College in Rock Island. A campus-wide strike protesting a lack of black faculty members awakened her interest in tackling political themes as an artist. Later, Nina Chanel Abney was accepted to the famous Parsons School of Design.

Her pieces feature her signature flat tints, universal symbols and collage-style jumbles of shapes. Her paintings capture our frazzled contemporary world. From racial issues and religion to gender, sexuality and pop culture, Nina Chanel Abney delves wholeheartedly into the 21st century’s information overload.

She now exhibits around the world (Brooklyn Museum, Rubell Family Collection, The Bronx Museum of the Arts , Burger Collection, Hong Kong). Glamour UK voted her one of the most popular artists, Paper Magazine called her one of the “12 boldest, most unexpected and exciting women in current art” and she’s often called upon to bring street culture to life. She’s actually the brains behind the 2019 cover of the annual street culture bible: the All Gone Book..

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