“A Modern Tsarouhi” is a hand painted papier mache tsarouhi shoe in blue and white modeled after the Greek shoes worn traditionally by the Greek guards, Evzones, but originating in the Ottoman Empire where they were worn by both women and men. For me, the shoes symbolize all that Greek citizens can be proud of, especially their traditions.

The modern version of this shoe represents all the strengths found in a traditional Greek character. It represents a national identity of generosity and kindness and a love for the Greek land, sea, and sunlight. Having a national identity strengthens the social fabric of a people during difficult times. At the core of the Greek national identity is the word philotimo, a word that literally translates into friend and honor but means so much more. Today in Greece, philotimo is ever-present in everyday occurrences from people cooking for one another or trading clothes with each other to using the barter system to help make payments for services rendered.

My paint choice is based on the colors of the Greek flag and part of the Greek landscape like the Aegean Sea and its surrounding islands. But there is also a special emphasis on the color blue in my artwork, which Greeks believe protect them from evil. They believe that charms and decorations with eye-like symbols repel the curse of the evil eye. I painted a geometrical version of the evil eye on the shoe, giving it a modern spin. I was inspired to design my own tsarouhi after an exhibit used the shoe as its central theme.

With my version of a modern tsarouhi, I want to show that modernization and tradition can go hand in hand and the pride we possess over our nation can carry Greece through these difficult times.

“A Modern Tsarouhi,” [dimensions], papier mache, acrylic paint.