Kerry James Marshall & Wales Bonner

Wales Bonner and Kerry James Marshall launch limited edition capsule collection with all proceeds donated to Study and Struggle to fight anti-Black racism and mass incarceration.

“What’s excellent is always beautiful” - Kerry James Marshall

Wales Bonner launches a limited-edition capsule collection in collaboration with the American artist Kerry James Marshall in support of Study and Struggle, a Mississippi-based organization that strives to build a world beyond prisons through political education, community building, and mutual aid.

The capsule consists of two T-Shirts printed on organic cotton, one of which features new artwork by the master painter created exclusively for the collaboration - described by the artist as “an iconic emblem that requires no translation.” The second T-Shirt reproduces a detail from Marshall’s 1993 painting Lost Boys: AKA Black Sonny, part of his Lost Boys series. These seminal works reference J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, in which the author depicts a band of boys roaming Neverland unwilling to grow up. In contrast, Marshall’s portraits are a tribute to Black lives lost in the American system, adolescents never granted the opportunity to grow up and realize their potential. His tender portrayals give dignity and humanity to the lost, bringing to light a reality that is often ignored, and suggesting there is a better way.

The collection is documented in a series of photographs by Tyler Mitchell and is modelled by Binx Walton, Calvin Royal III and Muhammad Fadel Lo. Net proceeds will be donated to Study and Struggle, which provides radical reading material for current or formerly incarcerated people and supports research projects and publications on their behalf.

Statement by Grace Wales Bonner:

“It is a profound honour to collaborate with Kerry James Marshall on this capsule collection - an artist whose practice was foremost in my mind when I first conceived of Wales Bonner in 2014. The brand was established as a means to bring an Afro-Atlantic spirit to European notions of luxury. My inspiration grew from an observation that the problems Kerry had identified with the western art historical canon were also abundant in the world of fashion. His artistic achievements opened my eyes to the real power and liberating possibilities of image making. By so elegantly centralizing the Black figure in his work, Kerry showed me just how different things could be, how ideals of beauty can be challenged, and how it is possible to gracefully infiltrate the canon and change it from within. I felt called to emulate his approach, to see how his successful strategies for broadening the spectrum of representation in art could be applied in a fashion context. In truth, my career owes much to Kerry’s example, which has been a guiding light for my generation.

I am deeply grateful to Kerry James Marshall for his generosity in creating an original image for Wales Bonner, an emblem that radiates strength, unity and hope. I also wish to offer him my thanks for giving his blessing to reproduce a detail from Lost Boys: AKA Black Sonny (1993), a painting from the Lost Boys series, a body of work I hold dear. These paintings illuminate the poignant reality of lives lost, honouring them with presence and dignity. I hope that all who invest in these special T-Shirts will revere and cherish these images as I do, and share in my happiness that proceeds from the collection will be directed towards the essential goals of freedom and justice.”

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