An L.A. artist honors a life lost by re-creating a classic Nike sneaker from porcelain

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hand of artist London James holding her replica of a Nike sneaker made out of slip cast porcelain
London James, Untitled, slip-cast porcelain, 2021.
(Mezu Ofoegbu)

This is part of Image Issue 4, “Image Makers,” a paean to L.A.’s luminaries of style. In this issue, we pay tribute to the people and brands pushing fashion culture in the city forward.

Untitled (2021)
London James
10 x 5.5 x 4 inches
slip-cast porcelain

A Conversation With Myself About Grief

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Ceramics has become a means of escape for me — a reprieve from social media, the latest trends and the hype of sneaker releases. While musing this project, I became inspired to honor a beautiful life recently lost within the community. How can I genuinely honor a magnificent life in a world of performative measures? Can I still be authentic while using such a trendy canvas — sneakers?

Yes, the umbrella of L.A. fashion is driven by trends and fads, to which the juxtaposition of authenticity and trends can also speak to grief and loss. Moreover, owning your own authenticity within the grieving process is what truly matters.

This piece speaks to grief and loss in community. The yellow crystal glaze bursts forth with unexpected hope, bringing both inspiration and motivation following sadness and loss. Laced with yellow ribbon, awareness and support are offered to those grieving while honoring the tremendous social contracts we create throughout life.

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London James is a 29-year-old, L.A.-based ceramic artist originally from Chicago. She spent most of her childhood in Inglewood, Calif., and received a B.A. in sociology from Loyola Marymount University. London began studying ceramics independently at LMU in 2011 and discovered an undeniable passion for the craft. In 2017, she created PorcelainSneakerhead (PSH), an exclusive line of ceramic sneaker art, merging two passions — kicks and clay. Follow her @porcelainsneakerhead

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