Tucked into the verdant landscape of Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, are two dramatically altered basketball courts primed for play. Commissioned by the women-led curators of Justkids (previously) and OZ Art, the public project was conceived by London-based artist Lakwena, who transformed the outdoor spot into a lively area with her trademark typographic murals.
Basketball jargon covers the patterned court with an arched “Make it rain” demarcating the three-point lines. Creating under a larger theme of unity, Lakwena also referenced iconic poet Maya Angelou, who lived in the state throughout her life. “Bury me down / still I rise” lines the perimeter of the court, with Lakwena’s title of the work, “I’ll bring you flowers,” spelled out on multi-color petals at the center circle.
This community-centered project is the artist’s second in Arkansas and follows a 2017 work at Sebastian County’s Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Smith. Lakwena writes that “I’ll bring you flowers” is an extension of that piece as it looks “at growth and blessing in spite of adversity.” She expands on the idea:
I was really excited to work in a place with a largely Black demographic. It was nice to make an artwork for people that I have a connection to in that respect, especially at what feels like a very significant time for the Black community. The piece is called “I’ll bring you flowers.” Flowers are often used as a way of greeting, paying respect and honor people, and I wanted to honor the community in Pine Bluff.
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An Opulent Kintsugi Installation by Victor Solomon Gilds a Dilapidated Basketball Court in Los Angeles
Celebrating the restorative qualities of sports and basketball’s return this past week, Victor Solomon mended a deteriorated court in South Los Angeles through the ancient art of Kintsugi—the Japanese method of repairing broken pottery by using metallic substances to mend the fractures. The artist filled cracks in the cement with gold-dust resin, highlighting the years of use “to accentuate the healing as a formative part of its journey,” he says. “Sport can entertain, inspire, and distract, but more apropos than all, the platform of sport can help us heal.” Titled “Kintsugi Court,” the gilded installation has similarly lavish backboards and hoops.
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Portuguese artist AkaCorleone recently repainted a public basketball court in Lisbon, Portugal to emphasize the unification of differing points of view. The mural, located in Campo dos Mártires da Pátria, covers a public 46 x 82 foot wide court in pink, yellow, and blue. Its figures—a woman holding the Earth and a bespectacled man—sit at opposing sides of the court much like the flipped profiles of Jack, Queen, or King playing cards. According to the artist’s statement the piece, titled “BALANCE,” is intended to demonstrate the coming together of separate forces, especially in the neighborhood and on the court.
“The search for a true balance, a perfect duality between two people, two teams, two sides, two realities, is hard to achieve, but it’s possible,” AkaCorleone explained. “The concept behind the art for this project was to play with the notion of duality, of two different points of view, two different sides that complement each other like to opposite versions of the same reality that can only be understood as one.”
If you are interested in sports-oriented murals, you might also like this technicolor basketball court created in collaboration between fashion brand Pigalle and design agency Ill-Studio, or the beautiful works produced in public parks by Project Backboard. You can find more of AkaCorleone’s outdoor murals and paintings on his website and Instagram. (via Street Art News)
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Unlike Guatemalan conceptual artist Darío Escobar, most people who pass through the sporting goods section of a store would not pause to consider the accumulation of mass-produced industrial objects like soccer balls and the cultural value that they gain via those who consume them. Escobar’s sculptural works make use of balls that have had their patches removed and resewn inside out, bats that have been broken and configured to form skylines, and skateboards that have been cut into pieces and reformed using gold hinges.
“My work starts from a reflection about the industrial object, sculptures created with soccer balls, skateboards, baseball bats, etc.,” the artist said in a statement, adding that his work is about the “persistent thinking of identical objects in a sculptural operation; a new configuration of an element repeated obsessively, such as when showing a product in supermarkets or sports stores.”
Escobar says that he is inspired by the way that objects like soccer balls are collected and displayed in an attempt to make them more appealing to consumers. “The artwork also tells us about the accumulation not from the perspective of the soccer balls’ ready-made individuality but from the amassing of merchandise as raw material for contemporary sculpture,” he said. In an interview with Reigning Champ, Escobar said that his manipulation of the objects is a way to “change the angle of view” and gain a new perspective. At larger retailers, balls are displayed at or below eye-level in individual packaging that elevate the intrigue of the product, while Escobar’s sculptures place them high above the viewer and bunch them together so that each ball is like the last. The works turn these merchandise displays on their head, creating unique ways to observe the construction of the sporting good object and its connection to the world at large.
To see more of Escobar’s conceptual sculptures using ready-made objects, check out his website.
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Project Backboard began in 2014 when Daniel Peterson, a former college basketball player and employee of the Memphis Grizzlies, noticed the neglected state of several basketball courts scattered around the city. To revive these spaces, Peterson began to refurbish the courts with small improvements—filling in cracks or repainting the basic lines needed for a regulation game.
As Peterson began updating courts across Memphis, his interest widened to include ways he could not only improve his local courts, but generate excitement in surrounding neighborhoods for their public parks. After learning local artist Anthony Lee was already designing an installation for a nearby court, he partnered with the artist to paint the park’s gray asphalt with bright blue and pink designs. The collaboration marked the beginning of Project Backboard, while also inspiring Peterson work with local artists who were already engaged within a chosen community.
“I prefer to work with artists who have a connection to the park or city where we are working,” Peterson told Colossal. “Having the artist on site is very helpful for installation and, especially if it is a city I am not as familiar with, a local artist can create a work with more meaning and context. That said, there are artists I have worked with in the past that I would love to work with again if the right opportunity comes along!”
After reviving several basketball courts in Memphis, Project Backboard has moved on to produce projects in St. Louis and Los Angeles. Currently the organization is working with cities along the East Coast, specifically Baltimore and New Rochelle, New York. To explore other updated courts, and how you might be able to collaborate on an installation in your own city, visit Project Blackboard’s website or Instagram. (via Artsy and the National Endowment for the Arts)
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In a unique collaboration between French fashion brand Pigalle and design agency Ill-Studio, the Paris Duperré basketball court was recently redesigned and repainted with a vibrant new color scheme. The narrow basketball court is nestled between two apartment buildings in the 9th arrondissement and has become a backdrop of sorts for unconventional color schemes, the first of which appeared in 2015. Photos courtesy Alex Penfornis and Sébastien Michelini. (via It’s Nice That)
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