Basketball is no longer just a sport. It has become a global phenomenon because of its ability to intersect with fashion, music and art.
The on-going ‘Art of the North’ exhibit is a celebration of that fact in the most diverse NBA city, Toronto.
The exhibit showcases Raptors-inspired artwork in the form of sculptures, photography, sneakers, graphic art and paintings. Artists tied to the Raptors such as assistant coach Patrick Mutombo and Ajiri Ujiri, brother of team president Masai, also had their worked displayed in the showcase that included over 100 pieces from 40 artists from around the world.
Vince Chang is the curator of Art Of The North. He founded Conscious Basketball, a brand of artists that express their love for the game by making art and collectively holding exhibitions around the world. Their recent exhibitions have been showcased in San Francisco and Taiwan and the success of those was the catalyst for the one in Toronto.
After doing shows on the Golden State Warriors with some support from the team, the Raptors reached out to do something even bigger.
“This show is different as the city and country is so global and that definitely comes through in how easy it was to get art from around the word,” said Chang, a native New Yorker, earlier this week.
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“The Aircraft” | 飛行體 . Above the wicked handles and beneath the three-point bombs lies an air space that is in constant display of aerial attacks with flight abilities that only the cream of the crop posses. This month, the one they call “#HalfManHalfAmazing” is transformed into the ultimate fighting aircraft, exploding through runways and destroying foul lines as the best that’s ever taken off. . @consciousbb . ——— #consciousbasketball #collectionbyvc #vincecarter
Maddy Rotman is a second year business student and artist attending Wilfrid Laurier University.
“There are hidden messages about the team in my art that wouldn’t make sense unless you know them,” Rotman explains. “When you see it you just know.”
Originally from Toronto, in her spare time she creates basketball art inspired by her passion for the Raptors. Her work first blew up when DeMar DeRozan noticed her cartoon depictions on histogram. Now she gets requests from the players including a piece she did depicting Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan with their kids. She’s made such a name for herself the Raptors have commissioned her to create images including for the 2017 NBA all-star game campaign around Kyle Lowry.
Casey Bannerman is a Toronto Raptors season ticket holder who uses his artistic talents to express his passion for the team. Casey has sold the rights of some of his work to Fred VanVleet.
“I think as a fan you notice subtle things about their personality in the arena and I just want to reflect that in my art,” Bannerman explains.
It’s not just the players who have noticed either. Kyle Lowry’s mother, Marie, was such a fan of Casey’s depiction of her son she asked how to get her hands on his work, which he gifted to her for free.
Art of the North will be free to attend and open to the public from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. until Jan. 13. Afterwards select pieces will be auctioned through the Raptors app with proceeds going to MLSE Foundation.