Albany Institute Offers Shoe Exhibits

The Albany Institute of History & Art has announced two related upcoming exhibitions: “The Perfect Fit: Shoes Tell Stories” and “Old Soles: Three Centuries of Shoes from the Albany Institute’s Collection.” The exhibitions open on October 16, 2010, and close on January 2, 2011.

Since the invention of protective foot coverings by early societies thousands of years ago, shoes have become not only an essential element of our clothing, but also symbols of status, utility, amusement, and art. “The Perfect Fit” features more than 100 examples of fanciful footwear created by contemporary American artists between 2004 and 2008. The shoes are made of materials ranging from clay, metal, fabric, wood, glass, and paper, and transcend everyday style and function to illustrate various themes pertaining to issues of gender, history, sexuality, class, race, and culture.

The exhibition, curated by Wendy Tarlow Kaplan, is organized by the Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA. An illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition and will be on sale in the Albany Institute’s Museum Shop for $10.00.

Accompanying “The Perfect Fit” will be a complementary exhibition entitled “Old Soles: Three Centuries of Shoes from the Albany Institute’s Collection.” The selection includes a variety of shoes ranging from a pair of brocaded silk women’s wedding shoes from the early 18th century to modern men’s and women’s footwear from the 20th century. The collection also includes protective over-shoes, pattens, slippers, jeweled buckles, work shoes, boots, and more. The Old Soles exhibition will be located in the museum’s Lansing Gallery, in proximity to many historic paintings in which the subjects are wearing shoes similar to those that will be on display.

Photo: Red riding shoes awarded to Miss Catherine Fitch for “Best Equestrian Rider” at the Albany Agricultural Society Fair, September, 1856, Wool felt and leather, 1856,
Gift of Margaret Boom, 1941.45, from Old Soles.

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