Fresh off announcing San Francisco artist Marconi Caldinas as winner of the North American New Era Introducing Creative Project Contest, global lifestyle brand New Era brought its touring gallery and exhibition to Edward Day Gallery in Toronto, for its final stop on November 10th, and NEC Talk was there to check it out. The event showcased the art work of all the finalists in the contest, who had been given a blank 59Fifty fitted cap to use as a canvas to make a statement of self-expression, with the winner receiving a $10,000 bursary to put towards furthering their artistic career. New Era transformed the Edward Day Gallery into a cap lover’s dream, melding the New Era brand with the ideas, concepts and art of the contestants.
The artwork on display incorporated a wide range of materials, such as wood, fur, copper, and paper mache’. Nothing was off limits! The designs of the pieces also had no boundaries. There was a hat turned into an ice cream cone; a multi-coloured pyramid; and even a goldfish 59Fifty cap in a fish bowl! The stories behind the hats also varied a great deal, and made these pieces more than just caps. Artists made powerful, creative statements, reflecting a wide range of inspiration, such as the functional, the playful, the cautionary, and the emotional. Cassady Benson’s functional hat – the Tactical Survivalist 59Fifty cap – was created as a “protective, energy efficient piece of equipment,” which she feels could be worn in a “bleak and post apocalyptic future.” Trina Fisher’s cow-wearing-aviator-sunglasses cap was inspired by something playful – her boyfriend’s love of music and cows. A cautionary note came from Samson Crawford’s stunning piece, encompassing the 59Fifty as part of a futuristic device we cannot unplug from, and will need to rely on for the necessities of life. Crawford feels we already rely on technology too much, making our lives more “artificial.” His piece is meant to symbolize where he feels society will be 1000 years from now if we keep up our dependence on technology. The emotional statement of the New Era Introducing Project Contest winner Marconi Calindas’ piece raises awareness about the issue of teen bullying, and of the tragic loss of life due to suicide that often results from it. Calindas’ artwork tries to move us to become a more accepting and inclusive society. New Era is often regarded as a brand geared towards a younger demographic, but this weekend in Toronto, the Edward Day Gallery was full of people from all walks of life and age groups, who came to see the creations of these talented artists and engage in discussions about the pieces. The New Era Introducing Project encourages young artists to express themselves creatively, transforming a blank baseball cap into a canvas from which they can introduce themselves to the world. The project shows us all that a cap can be much more than just something you wear on your head, but a way to fly your own flag and be proud of who you are.