Finishing The Hat: Artist’s Anti-Bullying Cap Wins $10,000 Prize From New Era

It’s called “A Little Too Late,” and it’s a work of art that started as headgear.

Hat and apparel maker New Era invited hundreds of artists to participate in a competition that allowed them to get creative with a blank 59FIFTY baseball cap. The winner, queer Filipino-American artist Marconi Calindas, used his entry (right) to evoke the consequences of bullying: Each quadrant is a stained-glass-style tableau depicting taunting, beating and thoughts of self-harm. Beneath the hat are paper-maché masks depicting methods of suicide.

Now that’s grim.

But it’s also the kind of strong, unique message the judges were looking for: “New Era Introducing is a platform for self-expression and a strong reflection of our brand DNA,” says consumer marketing director Wayne Best. “We’ve built our brand by focusing on customization and collaboration, and the opportunity to work on a project with young creative minds of tomorrow is incredibly exciting,”

As the winner, Calindas received a $10,000 grant to help launch his career and is being featured in a limited edition New Era Introducing book available at the retailer’s flagship stores. And his cap is going on tour, with its first stop at 82 Mercer gallery in New York, beginning September 28. (It’ll also go on view in Miami, L.A. and Chicago.)

If it’s hitting your town, go check it out—and maybe get a hug.