South African artist Dr Esther Mahlangu is making waves internationally as her work is showcased in Dubai.
A pair of customised Jordan 1 sneakers painted by Dr Mahlangu was unveiled at the Expo 2020 Dubai.
The sneakers, which feature Ndebele designs hand-painted by Mahlangu using a chicken feather, cost about $500 000 (about R7.5-million).
However, they are not on sale. Instead, they are being taken a world tour to pay for scholarships at the Ayashisa Amateki academy.
A unique pair of Air Jordan 1 sneakers customised by our Gogo Dr. Esther Mahlangu were unveiled at the Expo 2020 Dubai. They are valued at around $500,000 or R7.7 million. They're going on a world tour where showcasing fees will pay for scholarships at Ayashisa Amateki academy. pic.twitter.com/z8pKkt3ikW— Ndzavi Derrick .CBA (@NdzaviDerrick) November 4, 2021
The Ayashisa Amateki academy was started by Prince Menzi Mthethwa to teach young people how to customise sneakers, and commissioned Mahlangu to customise the AJ1 sneakers.
The sneakers will first be taken on a national tour. After that, they go to galleries in Paris, London, and New York.
"We've got a lot of students that have sent us their portfolios that want to study, but they don't have the money. Customising with a chicken feather is very difficult. And sourcing these feathers is a little bit of a challenge as well because we have to get the organic chicken from the Ndebele. Before it goes to Paris, we're going to do a national tour. We must give South Africans a peak of what we have before it goes out. Our people need to have access to this thing," Mthethwa told the Business Insider.
South Africa Pavilion visitors enjoyed customizing their favourite pair of sneakers by a talented set of South African artists 🇿🇦— moeti damane (@iamSANhedrin) October 28, 2021
With more than 190 countries in one place, if you're in #Dubai - 25 - 31 Oct 2021 #DontSleep on @MenziMthethwa & @Ayashisaamateki at #Expo2020 pic.twitter.com/OjAr73yGeO
Dr Mahlangu has worked with other big brands like BMW, Rolls-Royce, Gautrain and many others. Her work has been exhibited at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. This year, she hosted a solo exhibition at Melrose Gallery to celebrate her 85th birthday.