Last updated February 16th 2017

“Never underestimate the power of a shoe,” famed Italian shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti once said.

A Walk Of Art, an exclusive Israeli exhibition focusing on conceptual, artistic, and extreme women’s footwear, opened this week at the Parasol Projects Gallery in New York City.

The unique exhibit features over 60 extraordinary shoes created by alumni and students of Israel’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Notable designers featured in the exhibition include leading shoe artist Kobi Levi who has designed shoes worn by pop stars like Lady Gaga.

Kobi Levi. Slingshot, shoe

Slingshot shoe by Kobi Levi

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These shoes were not made for walking

A Walk of Art treads the line between art and fashion. Though we tend to think of shoes as practical objects, none of the footwear presented in the exhibit is actually meant for wearing or walking. In fact, most of the shoes were designed as single pairs and artistic one-offs. Freed from the need to take comfort and marketability into account, the creators were given creative license to express, through shoes, narratives that supersede mere design aesthetics.

hybird shoe

“HyBird Shoe” by Aya Feldman

Shoes dipped in the Dead Sea

The exhibit also features Sigalit Landau’s shoes that were submerged in the Dead Sea for two months, along with a wedding gown, until they were totally encrusted in salt crystals.

Edge, Sigalit Landau

“Edge” by Sigalit Landau (shoes were immersed in the Dead Sea)

Shoes as art

The exhibit raises a number of questions: Is a shoe a work of art? Should a shoe that cannot be walked in still be called a “shoe”? Thanks to their iconic shape, history, and symbolism, the designers believe that shoes are the ideal objects through which to evaluate these questions, to break the perceived boundaries of design and to transform shoes into objects of significance in their own right.

“Shoes are objects that have an almost mystical ability to instantly rivet us,” exhibit curator Ya’ara Keydar said in a statement. “The Walk of Art: Visionary Shoes” is an exploration of the charged history, iconic shapes and mystery that so often surrounds shoes through the lens of burgeoning Israeli designers and alumni of the Bezalel.”

Prism shoe, shoe, bezalel

This “Prism Shoe” by Neta Soreq was made using a 3-D printer and was  inspired by the psychedelic art of Pink Floyd’s iconic “Dark Side of the Moon” album.

The exhibit’s innovative and radical designs aim to defy space, anatomy, and gravity, pivoting around sculptural methods and blending traditional craft and nontraditional materials. From renowned artist Sigalit Landau’s salt-crystallized shoes to porcelain, glass, metal, wood, and 3D printed shoes, impossible platforms, wedges, and heels, the exhibition has a little bit of everything.

Tzidon crafted this shoe entirely out of aluminum and drew inspiration from motifs found in ancient weapons, such as the armor used by knights in the Middle Ages.

“Armor” by Sapir Tzidon. The artist crafted this shoe entirely out of aluminum and drew inspiration from motifs found in ancient weapons, such as the armor used by knights in the Middle Ages.

“Walk of Art is an exhibition that embodies the spirit of Bezalel through its fusion of art and fashion,” Bezalel’s President, Professor Adi Stern, said in a statement. “We are excited to see our talented students and acclaimed alumni explore the complex and fascinating social history and design evolution of women’s shoes with their art,” 

jenga shoe

Jenga by Gal Souva was inspired by the popular family tower building game.

The A Walk of Art: Visionary Shoes exhibit at the Parasol Projects Gallery runs until February 13th.

Pictures: Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design

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