“Orchids on My Shoes” is a decorative pair of paper mache covered ballet shoes made from recycled materials. Its dominant image, the orchid, stands as a symbol for the fragility of nature and the toughness of man-made industrial materials like shoes. These are two contrasts I wanted to fuse in this piece because like the plants and wind, mankind and nature, humans and wildlife, the tough and fragile elements of the world is all around us.

The orchid is a symbol of delicacy while the shoes represent strength. I wanted to juxtapose these opposing elements to create a new meaning for these ideas: basically that they represent the ingredients to living harmoniously in nature. Neither element fights for space or attention but rather complements each other.

My initial inspiration for this piece began with the idea of a flower, nature and then the specific colors. The summer heat and humidity were factors that drew me to the orchids (and not any other flower). Although orchids are fragile, they do not need much water to grow and live. They also thrive in humidity, in contrast to humans who do not.

Finding a way to express the idea of fragility in my artwork was my initial challenge but I overcame it by observing nature.  Fragility exists in many forms. Sometimes we can see it on people’s faces or skin, if they have scars or wrinkles. In flowers, it exists in the thinning of pedals and many other areas of the flower. To express this fragility, I used thin paper, which is fragile in and of itself. I also colored the orchid very lightly, displaying its vulnerability.

I chose the color green for its intensity and place in nature— the color of leaves, trees, trunks, and grass.

“Orchids on My Shoes,” recycled, papier mache