UZUMAKI CEPEDA - DAYDREAMING
by SARA RADIN | Teen Vogue
“Growing up, my mom, my brothers and my favorite rappers were wearing Reeboks. It associates with hip hop to me. It just reminds me of the Bronx,” says Uzumaki Cepeda, a Dominican textile artist, in a new campaign video about her recent collaboration with the sneaker brand.
Calling the sneaker brand “iconic” in the video — which shows the artist in what appears to be her bright and colorful home (serious dorm decor inspo!), wandering a fabric store while wearing the cutest patchwork denim skirt I’ve ever seen, and doodling and ripping up furry fabric — Uzumaki said she wanted to use the opportunity to make something “subtle” that represents who she is at this moment. And what was the result? Blue faux fur tassels that make a pair of classic Reebok Club C sneakers look “like business man shoes but for artists,” she says. The tassels are part of a special contest Reebok is launching today via its Instagram stories, in which people will be able to enter the contest via the swipe up feature starting at 1PM EST. The winner will be randomly selected through a generated system.
Created in connection with Reebok’s “Sport the Unexpected” campaign, the brand was drawn to the artist’s bold color palette, and the fact that she designs spaces for bodies of color and places Black and Brown women front and center in her work.
In regards to the project Uzumaki tells Teen Vogue, "Whenever I create anything, I brainstorm and I color a lot. I draw lots of sketches before I create anything as well, so I make fun color palettes and just daydream. I thought a lot about the Club C and how it’s such an iconic sneaker. Through this process, I came up with the sneaker tassels and earrings." Ultimately, one person will win the tassels, a pair of Club C Reeboks, a sweatshirt, and a bag.
According to the artist's website, Uzumaki — who makes faux fur installations, furniture, paintings, and sculptures — engages with memories and desires in her artwork, expressing that her, “dreams of wanting to relive childhood and to reshape it” is why she “works with everyday objects and transforms them.”
Uzumaki moved around a lot in her life, and it is with this lack of stability and the reality of living in lower-income housing that exposed her to the “beauty” and “pain” of it all. So, she makes work that sustains her spirit and brings positivity to her surroundings.
Some of Uzumaki’s most recent creations include: an orange, large-scale furry mural that says “art saves lives” in different bright hues, a fuzzy purple room installed at Instagram’s headquarters complete with a mirror, chair, ottomans, and a plant, all with colorful furry covers, a hairy yellow room at Colgate University, and a multicolor playroom with multi-hued blocks and furniture. Naturally, her work reminds me of the pages of my favorite book growing up, Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You'll Go.
As Uzumaki shared on her website, “the bright bold colors of my work reflect the innocence of my childhood and the loud palette of bodegas and fresh acrylic nails, among other things. I create and express as I piece together who I am within this world, that in the meantime, I am coating in soft faux fur.”
In the Reebok video, Uzumaki makes a point to share that for her, “inspiration in art is putting things that don’t belong together, together” and that her “whole life is like a collage” — a statement that resonated with me deeply since I wrote my college essay on that very same subject. Regarding the collaboration, the artist told Teen Vogue, "I hope people can take a bit of inspiration and more drive to move forward towards chasing their goals."
Do you think Uzumaki will make faux fur coats next? The fashion editors at Teen Vogue can only hope. Personally, I might just have to commission her to make me a turquoise and purple coat inspired by my favorite pixar character, James P. Sullivan, from Monsters, Inc., for the upcoming fashion month.