Last month, Oakley opened the doors of City of Origins, an immersive three-day retail pop-up store in Los Angeles — honoring the brand’s heritage in sports performance, which was cemented in 1984 with the Oakley Eyeshade. The three days were purposefully curated to celebrate that year, the same year the city of Los Angeles hosted the iconic summer games that proved to break boundaries and set the path for the future. To celebrate the launch, Oakley tapped creator Sage Adams to deign an Origins capsule art collection.

Adams is an LA activist and co-founder of the Art Hoe Collective, a group of inspiring young artists working to represent the underrepresented. She also does creative work for R&B songstress SZA and uses her voice, galleries, and workshops to bring brings awareness to LGBTQ+ and gender issues. “I had an amazing time working with the Oakley team,” Adams exclaimed. “I find that working with other creative people or groups that champion creative freedom is the absolute easiest.”

Oakley recently introduced the second chapter of their brand campaign, Love of Sport, declaring undying devotion to sport, performance and innovation.To support the campaign, Oakley released a new eyewear collection called Origins, capturing the brand’s iconic heritage and progressive approach to innovative design reimagined in present day style. Led by Sutro Eyeshade, a sport performance piece inspired by the iconic Eyeshade originally introduced in 1984, this new collection pays homage to Oakley’s journey rooted in a love of sport and passion for optics.

ESSENCE got a chance to chat with the Adams a little bit more below.

ESSENCE: When do you feel your best to create?

Sage Adams: I feel my best to create as I’m being challenged in other parts of my life. Art very much grounds me and gives me purpose, so when other things seem out of my control, creativity spares me.

How would you describe the correlation between sports and art?

I think the repetitive nature of sports training goes in hand with creating a cohesive art form. Practicing every day and creating muscle memory is something that I learned from both fencing and skateboarding, and I try to employ it in my art practice. The more comfortable you are with technique the easier it is to explore the medium. For me, that means trying to draw every day and practice the human form and gesture.

How was the experience working with Oakley?

I had an amazing time working with the Oakley team. I find that working with other creative people or groups that champion creative freedom is the absolute easiest because they are actually excited about what you end up making together. The team was so welcoming, it was easy to want to make the best collaboration possible. What struck me is that they truly employ artists as well as thought leaders, on staff were people like the Oakley creative who hand dips custom frames.

How has Art Hoe Collective helped you within your career?

I think my participation in Art Hoe Collective has absolutely given me a platform for others to see my work. Without that, I wouldn’t be pursuing a career in the arts. I’d likely still be searching for purpose. My fellow curators at the collective were the first people to say that maybe this is something worth pursuing. Having a support system made up of black creative professionals makes the art world seem less terrifying. Knowing that you have people makes all the difference.

For your part of the immersive experience ‘City of Origins,’ what did you have to do to prepare and plan?

For ‘City of Origins,’ I was asked to create original watercolor works that reflected the 1984 Olympics and the women of those games. When I do a commission, I like to give the client options so I make sheets of characters and items, which was perfect for this collaboration because the individual items and characters could be cut out for T shirt transfer.

What was your creative direction behind this project?

To reflect the 1984 Olympics and the women of the games, I wanted to include real people, and work directly from reference. I did some research and found an image of two black women completing an Olympic race. In the photo they were in tight embrace. It struck me that I don’t see many images of black women hugging from joy. Their names were Evelyn Ashford and Jeanette Bolden, and in that moment, Evelyn has just won the hundred meter dash. For me, moments like these capture the essence of sportsmanship, culture, and solidarity. Including real people is important to me, writing history, documenting real human experience in a colorful nostalgic way.

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