My Pair of Red Shoes Sewn With My Own Hands


Photos taken in May 2012, exactly 8 years ago

… when the parks of my hometown were full of blooming linden tree, the irises from the cathedral park had purple-pink shades, and I was an art student with freckles, following the call of my sensitive soul. I was so happy back then – I had finally graduated from the high school, which made me struggle with personality disorders. At the Fine Arts Academy it was different; I was feeling free. But most importantly, my childhood dream came true there – finally I had the chance to breathe art from the early morning until the late night.

Back then, when I was 21, I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin – too skinny or too young for my age. Back then, I was trying to gain weight, eating forcibly during the creative break at 2 or 3 o’clock at night. But what was even worse: I was trying to fill up my empty soul, “hambre del alma” (soul hunger), clinging desperately to people.

But in the meantime, despite everything, I thrived to sew my “pair of red shoes” with my own hands. I continued to sew them manually, putting all of my heart in, and getting so many pin pricks, at the same time.

I hadn’t even been able to enjoy them for a long time. I had become disoriented and I lost them after all … my pair of red shoes sewn with my own hands.

Irina Madan Art Student Life


“What happens when you mix carmine red with sapphire blue and yellow topaz? Painters know: you get the color of mud. It is not the fertile mud, but a desolate and a dull one. When a painter creates mud on canvas, she has to start all over again”.

What happened next? Answering many questions and facing inner struggles, finally I found my red shoes… Actually, I have started to sew from scratch new ones. But this time, I have more patience and a very special “ingredient”.

Now you might be asking yourself what is the story behind the red shoes? I can tell you it’s much more than the meaning of the red color, or just a simple pair of shoes. It represents the joy of creation. At some point in her life, the artist can lose her joy of creation for a certain period of time or even permanently. The joy of creation is the greatest joy that an artist can feel to its fullest. It’s that feeling when you literally jump up happily, because you’ve just finished a very difficult painting. Or … that brief moments of purely happiness when one of your dream finally comes true. It’s because you have followed your path in an honest manner, being inspired by your own intuition and deep feelings.

The symbol of the red shoes can be found in one of the stories from the book “Women who run with the wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Please find this book. I have read it in Romanian, my native language. It has still been very challenging. I would like to read it in English, as well. It is a book of a unique depth and artistry; a difficult book that has been written for a twenty years period; a book I wish I had discovered much earlier. But probably then “much earlier” I wouldn’t have understood it, maybe only superficially. Or, perhaps “much earlier” it wouldn’t have touched the deepest hidden place of my soul. And … I couldn’t probably have created hundreds of hand-painted clothes – at least not so colorful and “sweet”.


“I continue to live as I have always lived for many years now … deeply introverted, but I strive with all my strength to be in the world.”




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