Hank Willis Thomas' 'New Black Aesthetic' Pays Homage to NBA

Hank Willis Thomas' 'New Black Aesthetic' Pays Homage to NBA

NBA All-Star weekend just wrapped up in Cleveland and, in addition to the Three-Point Contest, Dunk Contest and All-Star Game that everyone comes out for, the league honored its picks for the best 75 players in its history. Coinciding with these events was a four-day exhibition by artist Hank Willis Thomas, called The New Black Aesthetic.

Thomas, who recently collaborated with Helmut Lang for a capsule centered on the two phrases "It’s All About You” and "It’s Not About You," created five handmade quilts that each celebrate a different legendary Black basketball player: Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Micheal Jordan, Bill Russell and Kobe Bryant.

Going along with this exhibit, Thomas also tweaked the league’s logo, creating a new and inclusive one that represents the NBA’s most iconic players.

Thomas’ quilting is inspired by different quilting traditions that can be found in the "African-American South," according to a press release. His history of quilting unexpected fabrics, like prison uniforms, can be found in these NBA quilts that stitch together NBA jerseys.

Speaking to GQ, Thomas explained the process of picking who to incorporate into the quilts. "It was hard to narrow it down, but essentially I wanted to highlight people who literally were larger than life,” he said. "[People] that when you think of them, you can also think legend, like each of them did one or two or a dozen things that people thought was impossible."

There’s good news for LeBron fans — Thomas plans on making one for him in the future.

Photography: Erika Kapin