Four AZ artists featured in ‘Origins: An NFL Collection’ merchandise
The National Football League this year brought back their Origins: An NFL Collection featuring Arizona-based design brands Ashley Macias, Elias Jade Not Afraid, Manor, and OXDX.
“The collection is a grassroots merchandise collaboration program to celebrate the cultural richness of NFL event host cities and the design talent sprouting from those communities,” according to the NFL. The collection was a special collaboration for the Super Bowl, and launched on Feb. 9.
Two of the featured artists are Indigenous.
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“Through this program, we are able to build stronger local connections and in return create deeper engagement with fans off-field through art, culture, and representation.” said Jonathan Beane, the chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at the NFL.
The NFL’s origins collection started in 2021 for Super Bowl LVI.
As part of the collection, designers were tasked with producing an exclusive lines of merchandise, by forming a one-of-a-kind Super Bowl LVII collection that reflected Arizona combined with a passion for NFL football.
“The NFL is welcoming to all communities, especially those in our event host cities,” Beane said. “Representing more than just merchandise, Origins: An NFL Collection welcomes diverse artists into the NFL ecosystem, with the opportunity to showcase their designs, community, and background through an NFL lens.”
Elias Jade Not Afraid and OXDX are two well-known Indigenous artists who have had their designs featured in various outlets, including Vogue.
Elias Jade Not Afraid is an Apsaalooké beader originally from Lodge Grass, Montana, located on the Crow Tribe’s land in southern Montana. He established a home in Whitecone, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation, where he continued his work as a traditional beader and launched his brand in 2015.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Not Afraid said, given the huge reach the Super Bowl provides.
“I’m not just representing myself, I’m representing my tribe and then I’m also representing the Native American community,” he said. “There’s only two Natives on this. It’s pretty cool. We get to put our art out there and show people that we’re still here. We’re still thriving.”
Not Afriad said he originally developed 15 different designs for the collection, and he was overthinking the project a lot due to nerves.
“The process of it was intense,” he said.
His work is usually really detailed and involved excessive detail, but Not Afriad said he didn’t want to over complicate the design. He wanted it to still pop, but be minimal.
The design that Not Afraid went with was inspired by an antique ledger he found from Kingman, Arizona. The primary colors of the design include red, purple and blue.
“In the end, everything came together,” he said.
OXDX was founded by Diné designer Jared Yazzie. His storefront is located in Tempe, and he launched his street wear brand in 2009.
Yazzie said he was contacted by the NFL in the summer of 2022 to be part of the collection.
“That was a nice surprise,” he said. He was excited to be part of the initiative because it’s a “unique and really community minded collection.”
Yazzie said his designs showcase the Indigenous aspect of the Super Bowl, but also the overall beauty of the southwest. Yazzie said he wanted to attract the Indigenous and non-Indigenous crowd with his collection.
“Our landscape and all the people here is so diverse and powerful,” Yazzie said, and that is what he wanted to showcase in his pieces.
“I tried the best I could,” he said, and he hopes his work with the Super Bowl will open up more opportunities in the future.
Yazzie said big companies should start looking at Indigenous artists for their work because they’ll “find something unique and find a storytelling element within the project.”
“I think Native people are perfect for that,” he added.
The other two Arizona brands include Ashley Macias, an Arizona-based artist that creates murals birthing surreal imagery and Manor, an independent lifestyle brand, as well as a community-centered retail establishment.
For additional information on the collection visit NFL.com/origins.
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