Artist Deconstructs 400 Pairs of Shoes to Highlight Materialism and Undiscovered Beauty


Of the six installations in Jean Shin: Collections, two of the pieces, “Worn Soles” and “Hide,” were derived from and focus specifically on shoes. Shin collected more than 400 pairs of shoes from friends and donors, deconstructing every aspect of the footwear to form the two modules. The result is an elaborate display that provides commentary on the many walks of life, including the relationship between materialism and consumption and how, despite being individuals, we essentially move as a collective group marching towards one goal.

“She wants people to take a look at this undiscovered beauty that exists in daily intimate unworn objects because you never pay attention to the bottom of the shoe and you had no idea that leather from worn out shoes can be a beautiful work of art,” said the curator.

“She also wants people to think about the consumer society because the fashion industry is all about conspicuous purchases. Some of the shoes aren’t even worn that many times but they were happy to give it up. Then, the network of people — we naturally have a relationship with different people as a social animal so that’s very clear in her work,” explained Woo.

“These objects are so close to a previous owner that they became a proxy of these people that used to wear them. It’s all about quantity and every single item represents someone in some way and once connected to some other unit it gains new function, meaning and beauty,” she added.

Analysis: This article and artwork outlines a main problem in the shoe industry. The world is based off a consumer society where fashion is constantly changing, and people are constantly buying new shoes. Therefore, lots of shoes are constantly trashed and given up easily even though they still could be used many more times.