What are Shoe Stories?

People wear shoes, and shoes tell stories. Who wore them, and when? What happened in their lives when they wore the shoes? If shoes could talk, imagine the tales they'd tell. They might describe feet flawed with bunions that ruined the perfect shape of costly silk slippers, or how a pampered prince gave his mud-covered leather boots to the serf tilling the field, or maybe they'd tell of confessions they heard when the priest who wore them sat for hours listening to parishioners' transgressions. 
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Such questions are for historians, anthropologists, or economists. And maybe for artists and writers, too.
 
As an artist, I mosaic shoes with glass, beads, charms and trinkets. As a writer, I recreate stories we know about famous people from history, religion or literature that the mosaicked shoes represent. Some stories are glued onto a shoe's insole, Others are on a base, like the ice skate. And several stories are in small frames.
 
I create Shoe Stories in order to instill empathy about people of the past and present. The Shoe Stories are visual and verbal narratives that challenge what we think we know, what we learned from books we read, or what we remember from tales someone told us. Shoe Stories spark curiosity and question assumptions, like, "What if...?"
 
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Shoes, as objects, reveal the social class, age, gender, and the era of their wearers, and so much more. Shoes show something about the economy of the time when they were made. What materials did shoemakers use? Leather? Fabrics? Straw? Embroidery? How did climate effect shoe production and shoe design? Why did people choose certain shoes? Did they even have a choice?
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Photo - Michael Pliskin