Hi friend! When people ask me what kind of art I make, my go-to response is that I like to work in predominantly recycled materials. This isn't exactly the answer to the question they asked, but it's the answer I'm most comfortable giving. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I like to jump around. I'm not comfortable calling myself a painter or an illustrator, even though I love to do both those things. I am also a dance maker. I create work in stained glass mosaics, tie dye, henna, found objects... mixing media is my JAM. It gets complicated coming up with a 3 second response.
I let the media move me. Then we move together. For context I've created this post dedicated to my current series. Hooray!
REFLECTIONS OF A DANCER PROJECT
Did you know a pair of pointe shoes cost anywhere from $50 to $120 bones per pair and they are only good for 13 hours of use? Yeah. Not great. Expensive as hell. But they have to be handmade to some degree, as the creation of a pointe shoe isn't possible strictly through machines yet. Which is kind of cool, a real life person made them out of glue, cardboard and fabric. (Learn more about the pointe shoe making process here.)
Anyways, it made me feel super wasteful to throw away all my old shoes that I spent hours jumping in, bleeding in, and moving across stage in. So then I had a giant drawer full of old stinky broken shoes lurking around. Couldn't bear to throw them away, but I knew they were pretty much useless.
I knew I'd find a use for them one day, a purpose for their remaining retired years. That purpose came in the form of an art exhibit featuring "reflections" of sorts at the WomanKraft Art Center. (WomanKraft is cool because they showcase artwork by local Tucson artists, in specific themed shows that run 2 months, and are free and open to the public. Learn more about WomanKraft here.)
I decided to run (and leap..ha!) with the idea of creating a dimensional self portrait of sorts using my old dance shoes. I titled it "Reflections of a Dancer" and incorporated different elements of my other art life- the performance kind.
The original piece is colorful, it depicts the many characters and choreography I have learned and studied on my dance journey. There are a lot of skulls as an ongoing theme and comment on mortality/life span of a dance career, the fear of a life altering injury, and because I also just like skulls. There are also a lot of words and sayings on the piece, as an affirmation mantra and confidence reminder. A typical struggle of a dancer. The incorporation of personal trinkets and goodies is pretty overwhelming. Even my old teeth are incorporated as a comment on body acceptance. I'm really proud of the piece, and the fact that I sewed all those things shoes onto a 24X36 inch canvas. This piece now lives at the Arizona Ballet Theatre.
After that I put out a call for other dancer's "dead" shoes to continue the project. Turns out many dancers have a collection of smelly old shoes they feel mildly attached to in need of purpose!
WHY I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS PROJECT
is because there is hypothetically an infinite source of materials - and it is comforting to me to keep these shoes out of the landfill.
You can't quite force an artistic exploration in a certain direction. Don't push the river. This is true with this project as each compilation of shoes I've created has been collaborative, I have some sort of initial idea and then manipulating the shoes begins to show me what is possible. It's a real process to paint on shoe shapes and there isn't quite enough gesso in the world to get a texture like canvas or paper or a good, conventional base coat on these babies, but I like a challenge as much as the next lady. It's my current exploration of fusing my love for dance with my love for visual art, and I hope it brings you some of the joy I had in making the work. I look forward to continuing this project as the drawer full of shoes is still very much a thing in my art supplies. *Not to mention its delightful to screw and hammer these torture devices into wood for once. ;)
This one came when my friend Tony gave me this awesome round wooden base, and said make a mandala with them! This is the first piece I've explored painting the shoes together to create a whole image, as opposed to painting each shoe individually. It reminds me of the sun, it's circular like the infinity of movement potential, and incorporates paint, fabric and marker.
"CACTUS QUEEN // JUNE BUG BLESSING"
This piece is multimedia for sure, using a wooden mask I've had hidden up in my studio for ages, some gorgeous iridescent paint I just got my hands on, and a June bug I coated in resin. I get Marie Laveau vibes, and love her glam.
This piece was something that literally just fell together, but has a cool story. So I teach pre-ballet to 3,4 and 5 year olds (or glorified baby sitting as I like to call it) and the first thing we do in each class is sit down, put the soles of our feet together and make a "ballet sandwich" where we go around the circle and every dancer gets to put anything their heart desires on their sandwich before reaching forward and take imaginary bites out of their feet. It's a fool proof plan to get 'em stretching. And if you spend any time around a 4 year old taking ballet, the go-to ingredients for a choice sandwich would be cupcakes, rainbows, sprinkles, unicorns, tutu's... etcetera! Which I also happen to love and enjoy. (as I can still proudly say I am very much still 4 years old) I was just painting things I like on these shoes and then when I put the piece together I was like oh! It's a ballet sandwich!
"AGAVE POINTE PERSPECTIVE"
This one is agave-licious. I was going for an agave-esque pattern with the shoe placement, and then painted agaves on them to reinforce the theme. I also kept it pretty minimal as these shoes where in pretty good shape as far as coloration of the satin, and I wanted to keep some of that visible as opposed to covering it entirely as I have with some of the other pieces. There are small worry dolls placed in each shoe, some in posse, leaping, dancing to some degree. Tee hee.
SEE THE ENTIRE GALLERY OF THIS SERIES HERE. (And guess what! They are for sale!)
CHECK OUT SOME AWFUL POINTE SHOE ART WORK BOUQUET EEW HERE
Okay so the more I look up this kind of stuff the more intrigued I am. Woa.