CHICAGO — A Canadian artist has named two of her sculptures after Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in an attempt to show black culture's "glorification of basketball" and "its belief that it is one of the only lucrative options for the black man."
"I Am Michael Jordan" and "I Am Scottie Pippen" — basketball rims with dangling nets made from metal and reappropriated rusted chain — recently debuted as part of Esmaa Mohamoud's "The Condition of The Black Man" series.
The Jordan sculpture is 10 feet high, while Pippen's is half as tall. The rims on both pieces of art are 3 feet wide. Viewers can walk through the chain nets and stand inside the pieces.
"Most people feel a similar reaction: They thought they wanted to be inside it, but then they immediately felt trapped," said Mohamoud, 22, of Toronto. "But they had the privilege of being able to walk out of the chain unlike others. The difference is ... the black man is actually trapped within this human condition, and therefore must aspire to be as great as M.J. or Pippen."
Mohamoud, who is black, grew up a Bulls fan because her older brothers loved Chicago's six championship teams — and especially Jordan and Pippen — in the 1990s. She has no current plans to sell the sculptures, which is noteworthy considering last week the former Dominick's grocery store chain was court-ordered to pay Jordan $8.9 million for the unapproved and unlicensed use of his name in an ad hawking steaks.
Mohamoud hopes her sculptures spread the message that basketball is not the only way for many black teenagers and children to have success in their lives.
"I want them to realize that if they don't make it to the NBA, it's not the end of their lives — that they have more abilities than just basketball," she said.
Mohamoud is working on four other hoops sculptures she hopes to exhibit outdoors at Toronto's city hall next spring. They all will be named after NBA players. The next piece will be called "I Am Charles Barkley," and it will be between the heights of Jordan's and Pippen's sculptures.
She'd eventually like to bring all six metal rims and nets to Chicago.
"The art scene in Chicago is amazing," she said.