In Santa Fe, on August 22nd, I attended the Vital Strides: IAIA ASG Live Paint Event and Fundraiser at IAIA’s Museum of Contemporary Native Art (MoCNA). They had a lot of neat TOMS Shoes done up by prominent Native artists associated in some way with IAIA, either as students or faculty. Those were pretty much out of my economic range (yeah, budget). But I turned around and saw artist Heidi Brandow set-up at a table ready to paint on a pair of shoes for the low low price of $60. I couldn’t resist! Heidi was one of the women involved in the School for Advanced Research project that resulted in the book Art in Our Lives: Native Women Artists in Dialogue. I really like her work, so I asked her to make some shoes for me. Here they are:
So, what are TOMS Shoes? The company has a one-for-one policy, meaning that every pair of shoes sold results in a pair of shoes being donated to a child in a developing country. Aside from providing shoes for reasons of health and safety, most schools require shoes. If a child can’t come up with shoes, education is refused. Shoes seem to be key tools for education, for avoiding parasites, and for preventing cuts/infections, etc. Since I just got mine and haven’t worn them much, I can’t comment yet on their durability, ergonomics, comfort, or suitability for hard work. Am I participating in Corporate Colonization? I love the term I saw on a post at Sociological Images: Conspicuous Conservation. Maybe I just participated in Conspicuous Doo-gooder-ism. But at least TOMS Shoes is demonstrating the profitabilty of Corporate Responsibility. At any rate, I can say that an artist I really like (Heidi Brandow), embellished these shoes for me, including a personalized inscription and signature on the interior. It gives me the opportunity to drop her name relentlessly into conversations when I am wearing these shoes. Part of my $60 also went to students at IAIA, and that’s a good thing. The good of those two things hopefully outweighs the small possibility that giving someone in a so-called developing country a pair of donated Toms Shoes is a colonialist/assimilationist act. I will enjoy my shoes and talk up Heidi, IAIA, and MoCNA, and even Toms Shoes.
P.S. I hate the term “developing.” It sounds like it’s inevitable, like puberty.
P.P.S I am hoping that others who bought shoes at this event will send pictures to share! Hint hint! My e-mail address is on the About Page.