Forget whatever you thought you knew about your sneakers. They aren’t the highly functioning shoes that you use for your morning jog, or the finishing piece to your “fit.” No, they’re art. And currently at the Brooklyn Museum on 200 Eastern Parkway, they are one of the 150 sneakers on display as part of the “Rise of Sneaker Culture” exhibition.
Okay, so your sneakers aren’t the Mona Lisa, or the Guernica, unlike those ancient pieces your sneakers are current, relatable and always making a comeback, looking through the exhibition on the 5th floor of the Brooklyn Museum fills you with the feeling of nostalgia. These sneakers are not only interesting for their design, but for the circumstances of their arrival. President Kennedy’s promotion of physical education in the 60s called for the jogging craze of the 70s and the ‘sneaker boom’ that followed thereafter. Then the punk trend that called for Chuck Taylors and subsequently the hip-hop culture, which lead to black youth rocking expensive basketball sneakers hence the popularity of Jordans.
The exhibition of 150 sneakers is a chronological visual display of the evolution of sneakers from mere high functionality footwear to where it is today, a symbol of status. Having sneakers from the archives of everyday manufacturers like Adidas, Nike, Puma and Reebok to the private collections of DMC the hip hop legend and Bobbito Garcia as well as top design houses like Yves Saint Laurent, Balmain and Prada. These sneakers curated with film footage, photographic images and design drawings from the time period of their introduction add context to the sneakers, explore the history and marketing campaigns that lead to sneakers becoming the symbol of status that they are today.