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Legendary Artist Creates China-Inspired NFL Super Bowl Mural

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In the lead-up to the 2022 Super Bowl in Los Angeles, the National Football League (NFL) partnered with L.A.-based artist and designer Bernard Chang to create a unique China-inspired mural featuring the helmets of all 32 NFL teams. 

The mural was on display for the NFL Super Bowl Experience at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and the individual helmet designs were then made into one-of-a-kind prints and sold on NFL Auction. The sales brought in over 14,400 USD, with all the proceeds donated to local non-profits benefitting the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. 

Super Bowl Experience 2022

APEX mural at the NFL Super Bowl Experience on February 11, 2022, in Los Angeles

“When my family immigrated to America, I instantly fell in love with the sport of football,” said Chang in a press release for the mural project. 

“It’s a tremendous honor to collaborate with the NFL to create this piece that celebrates the awesome battles on the gridiron fused with the fantastical creative designs of traditional Peking opera masks.” 

Each helmet is reimagined in a Peking opera esthetic, with distinct colors and flair reflective of their corresponding NFL teams. Centered between 16 masks on each side is a dazzling Year of the Tiger-themed red and yellow design. 

All 32 masks were sold by the time the auction closed on February 28, with the cost per print averaging 450 USD.

The mural was displayed at the NFL Super Bowl Experience from February 10-12, 2022, after which it was donated to the Super Bowl LVI (SBLVI) Legacy Program — Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, where it will be displayed at their L.A. office. 

Proceeds from the auction were split between three non-profit organizations: The Asian American Foundation, Stand With Asians Community Fund, and the aforementioned Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA — one of 56 SBLVI Legacy Programs.

Bernard Chang

Bernard Chang and the APEX mural at the NFL Super Bowl Experience in Los Angeles

If you’re into comic books, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen the work of Bernard Chang before, as his drawings have graced the pages of iconic Marvel, DC, and Valiant comics for the past three decades. 

Chang was born in Montreal and lived most of his early life in Taiwan until the age of 6. Elements of his Chinese heritage are evident in much of his work, including the alternate cover art for the hit wuxia comic Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsman (剑仙传奇) and his own co-created comic The Monkey Prince, which is inspired by the mythical Monkey King (Sun Wukong) from Chinese folklore.  

His latest NFL project combines Chinese elements with the comic book spirit of conflict in its athletic manifestation. 

“Peking operas have told countless stories of honorable legends and glorious battles. Their unique style of face painting and masks help depict those heroes and villains in action,” says Chang. He adds that he “wanted this project to fuse that same element of visual storytelling into each team’s unique identity and character.” 

The L.A.-based artist’s work can also be found in New York Times-bestselling books by Neil Strauss, a series of children’s stories called The Black Belt Club, and — on the opposite end of the literary spectrum — in the autobiography of adult video actress Jenna Jameson. 

The NFL teamed up with Chinese tech giant Tencent back in 2017 to increase the promotion of football in China. In 2019, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell named China a “priority market” for the promotion of the sport. 

Back in 2007, Beijing was set to host a preseason game between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. Dubbed the ‘China Bowl,’ the match was postponed to 2009 and ultimately canceled. The possibility arose again in 2020, but so far, China’s football fans are still patiently waiting for the NFL’s Middle Kingdom debut.

All images via Ryan Kang/NFL

Jesse Pottinger
    Jesse is a Vancouver-based journalist who spent four back-to-back summers living in Guangzhou and working with That’s magazines. He currently serves as a remotely-based junior editor with RADII. Jesse has spent considerable time traveling around China over the past half-decade and has something of a passion for dumplings. You can follow his adventures on Instagram at @messy_jesse.
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