Overboard features nearly 250 sculptures by artist Andy Yoder riffing off Nike Air Jordan 5s. One of the most iconic and recognizable athletic shoes in contemporary culture, this specific model catapulted into popularity in 1990. That same year, more than 80,000 pairs of Nike brand shoes and work boots fell into the Pacific Ocean during a storm en route to the U.S. from South Korea, prompting Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer’s groundbreaking study of maritime currents. Using unique serial numbers on each sneaker, he and his researchers gathered data from beachcombers worldwide who found the shoes washed ashore.
Instead of cloth or leather, Yoder uses boxes, bags, posters, and other discarded items – much like the salvaged and waterlogged shoes. “I’m a big believer in the possibility of second chances, which is why this story has such appeal for me,” the artist said. “Making art is a form of alchemy and being creative gives us the power to steer the ship, rather than bobbing around like a sneaker lost at sea. With this in mind, if you come across a shoe on the beach (or a flip flop, or a bottle), do the right thing, and toss it in the trash. You never know where it might go from there.”