Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday August 20th 2019


Making Pairs

By Savannah Evanoff

Malika Green has dreamt of shoes since she was a teenager.

The Brooklyn-based shoe designer and maker’s parents were also artists, so she grew up in a creative atmosphere. She remembers waking up in the morning with the vision of footwear swirling around in her head.

While later attending Cranbrook Academy of Art, she took her first footwear design class.

“I really fell in love with it,” Green said. “Shoes are one of those common objects we feel really intimate toward because we’re so connected to what we’re wearing on our feet.”

Green has designed and made shoes since. The Pensacola Museum of Art borrowed nine pairs for “Worn In / Worn Out”—one made in the past few months.

“They borrowed work spanning the entire history of me making art shoes with different themes,” Green said. “Some of the common themes I’ve worked in are the body—making shoes as body extensions—very playful. There’s a pair of shoes you can only wear walking down the stairs, sort of a satire on footwear. Other shoes were more exploring identity, humor, beauty, perfection, shoes that don’t match on purpose.”

Green also teaches workshops about the shoemaking process.

“A lot of my students come to me with the dissatisfaction of, ‘I can never find what I’m looking for. I really want to try to make it.’”

Sometimes it’s hard for Green to wear the shoes she makes. Because she started as a fine artist, she saw the shoes as artwork.

“I was making art shoes that were used in performance art and dances, so they weren’t meant in the strictest sense of a shoe,” Green said. “For me, it became the elephant in the room. I rethought that a couple years into the process and realized I wanted them to actually function as footwear as well. Now I try to build that meaning into the actual object and not have to add exterior things to it like performance and dance.”

Making shoes is a labor-intensive craft. More than 300 hours can go into one pair.

“It’s interesting because your design goes from 2-D to 3-D, so it’s definitely a process,” Green said. “You would think that designing shoes is really creative, but it’s actually very technical.”

Green thinks people are drawn to shoes because they’re objects everyone has a memory around. The nostalgia became apparent during previous art residencies.

“People always come in with a story about their favorite shoe when they were a kid or some memory associated,” Green said. “I have so many memories around shoes. I remember loving my little Penny Mary Janes when I was a little kid and just falling in love with my shoes. I remember when I was in the second grade, I really wanted this pair of high-heeled booties, but what mom buys their kid high-heeled booties? She didn’t buy them for me, but I remember crying and being sad.”

Artist Talk: Malika Green
WHAT: A BYOB sit-down with exhibiting artist Malika Green and Amy Bowman-McElhone
WHEN: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, June 7
COST: Free
WHERE: Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St.