Harry Styles Fine Line Jordan by Andy Yoder
9″x13″x5″; Bristol board, reclaimed packaging, found object, hot glue; 2020. Photo: Greg Staley. Courtesy of the artist and Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.


Andy Yoder: Overboard

at Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Brattleboro, Vermont, USA
24 October 2020-6 March 2021

The museum provided this statement from artist Andy Yoder:
There are scores of solid, practical reasons not to be an artist, but luckily there are also some advantages. Being an artist teaches you to embrace randomness and uncertainty rather than trying to avoid them. This comes in handy, because no matter how much we try to control and order our lives, the messy, chaotic outside world finds a way to intrude—which is what makes it so interesting.

Thirty years ago, five shipping containers fell off a freighter during a storm, dumping 61,820 Nikes into the Pacific. As the shoes washed ashore on the coast of Oregon and Washington, a network of beachcombers collected and resold them. An oceanographer got word of this and collaborated with the beachcombers to create data, leading to an important study of the ocean’s currents. The news media picked up the story, and the oceanographer became a celebrity, making appearances on late night talk shows. Nike embraced his work and invited him to speak to employees about what became known as “The Great Shoe Spill of 1990.” I learned about this while researching ideas for a solo installation at CulturalDC’s Mobile Art Gallery, which is a repurposed, solar-powered shipping container. When those containers fell into the ocean, they made a big splash, and now the ripples have come to BMAC.

“Andy Yoder: Overboard” installation view. Courtesy of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

I’m a big believer in the possibility of second chances, which is why this story has such appeal for me. Most of the sneakers are made from materials I pulled out of recycling bins, like a beachcomber collecting Nikes on the beach. 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.

“Andy Yoder: Overboard” was originally conceived and developed for CulturalDC’s Mobile Art Gallery. Due to COVID-19, the exhibit was unable to debut with CulturalDC as intended. Following its showing at BMAC, Overboard will return to Washington DC, to be exhibited with CulturalDC in spring 2021.

(text adapted from the gallery’s press materials)


Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
10 Vernon Street
Brattleboro, Vermont 05301 USA
(802) 257-0124

Wednesday-Sunday, 10AM-4PM