A visual symphony created from relic cards

Photo used by permission from Chris Killham’ Instagram @hockey_card_barn

Doing fun things with relic cards

In the trading card industry, card manufacturers slice up a player’s jersey and embed the jersey swatches inside a trading card. These are fun cards to collect, because they contain an actual piece of a player’s jersey. They are called “relic cards.” Thus, by opening a pack of trading cards, you might end up with a slice of a player’s jersey.

Often you might not be able to tell where the slice came from in the jersey. It’s just a random piece of fabric. However, if your slice is from part of the team’s logo, then you might able to determine where your slice came from. Especially if your piece contains a slice of a team logo that is detailed as the Chicago Blackhawk’s logo.

Matching the jersey swatch with a full jersey

Artist Chris Killham takes his Blackhawks relic cards and finds the exact spot where the swatches comes from on a Blackhawks sweater/jersey.

He lays the card on that exact spot on the jersey. Then he photographs the card on top of the jersey. The viewer can see how certain elements (like lines, colors, shapes) in the swatch match the spot on the jersey.

Photo used by permission from Chris Killham’ Instagram @hockey_card_barn

He has an Instagram account, @hockey_card_barn, dedicated to this fine art. The images look amazing together.

Screenshot of Chris Killham’s Instagram account @hockey_card_barn

These collectibles become pieces of a narrative, telling stories beyond the confines of their cardboard borders.

Killham creates a visual symphony that resonates with the spirit of both art and sport. This is not just a collection it’s a recollection, sparking an artful dialogue.

Logo becomes geography, encouraging us to pay more attention to detail

The exercise of matching jersey swatches to their original location becomes a meticulous investigation, a deliberate journey across the fabric’s geography. This endeavor magnifies the design’s topography, where the minutiae of the Blackhawks logo are no longer just parts of a whole but become significant landmarks.

As each relic card is placed upon its corresponding territory on the jersey, the edges and lines of the logo transform. You become aesthetically aware of all the shapes, colors, and lines in the logo.

Identifying with the players

By superimposing a player’s jersey onto the fabric of the team’s identity, the fan does more than simply match colors and patterns. He is using his own jersey to match up with the player’s jersey. In most cases, the jersey looks nearly identical.

He weaves himself into the narrative of the team and its members, identifying with the prowess and stories that each thread holds. It is a profound gesture, linking personal fandom with the collective memory encapsulated within the jersey’s weave.

Fragmented and reunified

The act is rich with symbolism and ripe for interpretation. It speaks to the fragmentation and subsequent reunification of identity. Each swatch, a microcosm of the game, once severed from its source, now seeks to return, to become part of the narrative once more. This alignment is a silent yet potent homage to the sport, a performative act that mirrors the precision and dedication required on the ice.

Photography as art

The photographic evidence of these alignments serves as a meta-commentary on the act of collection itself. Each image, a frozen tableau, captures the fleeting moment when a piece of sports history is both preserved and celebrated. These photographs are relics in their own right, chronicling the act of chronicling, a recursive loop that adds depth to the fan’s endeavor.

New considerations

In this convergence of sports history, personal identity, and artistic expression, we find a layered artifact that defies categorization. The lines between card, jersey, and photograph blur, allowing each to grant the others new meanings. It’s a narrative that invites us to reconsider the value we place on objects of fandom, urging us to see beyond the physical to the stories they bear.

(And besides all this analysis, these are just so aesthetically pleasing to look at. I have a new appreciation for all the channel stitching on hockey sweaters)

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Erik M
Erik M
3 months ago

It’s shame a lot of professional sports teams are moving to screen-printed graphics on uniforms rather than stitched patches. The stitching on the Hawks jerseys/sweaters are great.

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