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Artist Statement: Wall-Relief Shoe work

When I started this work, I had intended to create something spiritual ... simply about the soul. But over the course of time the work took on a catalyst for re-creation, a co-creator, a part of the creation. Creating this work gave me the opportunity to visually express myself, heal myself and, I feel, inspire others on their own journey. I become both a mirror of "inside" and "outside" events. As I chronicle my own journey, I feel I also chronicle "every man's journey."

Both my physical pain and spiritual angst are represented in this work both "symbolically" (by the "symbol" of the shoes), and "artistically" (in the various finishes and materials I have used in creating these montages.) I use the shoe as a metaphor for the soul ... as in the soul's physical and spiritual journey through life. Shoes are a vehicle of physical transport, practical - they walk the soul through life. Esthetically, shoes are a thing of beauty - a dancer's shoes are objects of beauty, hand-stitched, silky, supple, and strong. The shoes mirror not only the wear and tear of years of practice, showing the struggle, anguish, pain and perspiration from years of dancing practice and the drive for perfection - but they also reflect the hopes, dreams and the achievement of those fleeting magical moments when dance, rhythm, and music transcend the mundane and allow the spirit to soar. Like aged faces marked by a lifetime's experience, the shoes are eventually shed like worn skins. The repetition of the shoes reveals the landscape of collective memories, the emotional counterpoint to endless hours of practice, work, ever-striving for perfection, existence, and the attainment of dreams. Again, ballet shoes mirror the soul's journey through life - the sole wears the soul and vice versa. Generally, I tried to always balance my inner soul voice with my formal artistic voice, so that I was aware of the framework for my work, and also as a way to perceive when each segment of the respective journey was resolved.

Using shoes "spiritually" to represent female genitalia (and "physically" to reflect "life's actual physical journey"), I show painful life events "artistically." The montages are variously covered with metals. Symbolically metals are referred to as meaning "valuable and enduring components of the psyche ... The extracting of metal from the ore, the mixing of metal alloys which combined their particular qualities into something new and sometimes better, was symbolic of the work of transforming nature." The color and texture of the various pieces symbolize the earth, both as landscape and as something to which we return. Beeswax is used to give a cellular structure similar to a honeycomb to reflect a bee's life: long hours of struggle to sustain the colony of bees. As an artist, I believe that all artists' work is autobiographical, and in my work, I am constantly evolving to get in touch with my inner voice.

Co-Written by C.A. Michel & Maureen Doherty
Edited by Maureen Doherty

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© Copyright 2010 C.A. Michel
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