Ameerah Vania Shares Her Experience As A Mentee In Nike & Virgil Abloh’s Re-Creation Centers Mentorship Program

The Re-Creation Centers mentorship program welcomes ten young creatives/designers who were chosen to participate in a 2-month program of masterclasses created by Virgil and the Nike Chicago team. They learned from different artists, all connected to Chicago. The students learned how to take a concept to execution. In the end, they presented individual projects to Virgil that were also on view to the public during ComplexCon weekend.

The duo intends for the space to not only provide a jolt of artistic energy but also to reinforce the role that creative output has in shaping the future. Hand-picked partners, ranging from graphic designers to photographers, will host workshops and mentorship programs that introduce the fundamentals of a variety of disciplines. Virgil started the program with a panel discussion on the historical impact of Chicago’s cultural impact on the world and set the stage for a new generation of homegrown talent to blossom.

                                                                                                    Image via Nike

Mentors include:

  • Chuck Anderson (Graphic Design)
  • Paul Octavious (Photography)
  • Alyx Harch (Fabric Design)
  • Thomas Kelley and Carrie Norman (Brand Identity)
  • Ann Lui and Craig Reschke (Architecture)

Presented as a “power plant of a different kind”, the temporary space is designed with a simple, industrial aesthetic. The space also highlights Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe initiative, which transforms worn-out athletic shoes into Nike Grind. The recycled material will later be used to build a community basketball court in Chicago for the National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Weekend in February 2020. The space marks the latest collaboration between Abloh and Nike. If you remember the duo previously worked together to produce tennis player Serena Williams kit for the 2018 US Open.

We caught up with one of the students from the program, Ameerah Vania to ask a few questions about her experience working with Nike, how was the process, and what she enjoyed most about this experience.

How was your overall experience working with/for Nike and Virgil?

I actually thoroughly enjoyed my time in the program. I was reluctant to take the opportunity when it was first presented to me but I decided to accept it in the end. I knew that I would be gaining valuable knowledge.

Explain how the process went when it came to picking and finding creatives in the Chicago area. What steps did you take to secure your spot?

Everyone was picked by the Nike Chicago team with Virgil’s approval.

Explain your project in the end, how did you come up with your idea? What did it represent/stand for?

I decided to make my project very personal. A few years ago I came up with this concept called ‘sugar’. I wanted it to represent black women. A play on ‘brown sugar’. It’s purpose was to uplift young black girls. I set up my display to look as if it was a young girls room. I included an eMAC computer on a miniature desk and a clothes rack with retro, Sugar Athletics’ T-shirt that I hand screened.  When explaining my project concept to Virgil I posed the question, ‘What could a brand that represented young black girls look like? What could that type of shoe look like? And how do we tackle representation is this way?’ My answer was to make products that resonate with those people. By putting them on the big screen so they can se themselves.

Can we expect anymore projects from you in the future?

My future plans include building the women’s selection at my current job as women’s buyer for Congruent Space @congruentspace in Chicago and possibly continuing a journey with the Nike team. I also plan on releasing a visual book in the near future.

Follow some of the other talented students from the program and check out their work via social media.


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