Tuesday, January 31, 2012

more proof that my early shoe obsession still lingers

During a multicultural art class at Mansfield University, I was given the task of choosing a culture and doing a piece of artwork that exemplified that culture's style. A few google searches into the process had me fixated on the Ga's.

The Ga tribe in Ghana has become famous for their elaborate coffins. It has become a custom for those that can afford it to spend eternity in an object or animal that defined your existence on earth. Coke bottles, wingtips, fancy cars and beer cans are shown on many websites that describe these fine craftsmen.

fish coffin ready to go
I loved the fact that their artwork (coffins) would soon be under ground. This would be an enormous decision for these folks as funerals were community activities and this is the vessel that would carry you onward to the afterlife. Once I figured out the cultural art style, I then had to consider what object I might wish to lay in while six feet under.

Shoes were a huge part of my life as a boy and young man (as described in a previous post). Deciding which shoe would represent my love of athletic footwear was the real challenge. I narrowed it down to five Nike products: the Airship, the Sock Trainer (a running/training shoe), the Air Force 1, the Dunk, and the Revolution. The Air Force 1 was chosen due to the impact it made and still makes on our culture. Air Jordan's were not considered due to the fact that I never owned a pair.

I am not a woodworker like the talented men in Ghana so working in wood was out. My budget was about zero dollars so a full scale coffin, regardless the material, was also out. I was taking a course in ceramics at the time so I attempted to get kill two birds and go with a men's size 10.5 in clay. The Ga also make small containers so I used this bit of info to tie it all together. Clay and small sounded like a good mix. The plan was to make a shoe that had a removable lid that could pass as a container until I got it home. The real purpose was to have an Air Force 1 out of clay. The shoe looked great until the glaze didn't take. It now looks like I spilt milk all over it (also, the kiln firing shrunk it down to a size 8.5 or 9).

Every year or so I ask Ashley if I should get out some spray paint and give it a spiffy clean coat. She has said "NO!" each time.


  1. Hey Randy - I met you one day when you were working on this sneaker in old Allen Hall and I agree with Ashley. Sorry...

  2. yes sir, i remember the meeting and your agreement with Ashley makes the issue "put-to-rest" !!! Hope to get over and see your work in Wellsboro.

  3. I think it looks great just like it is. It looks like an art object that looks like a shoe, instead of being an art object that looks like a shoe -- if that makes sense.

  4. I agree Mr. Wales! Thanks for backing me up on this issue gentlemen :)