Amara H. was searching for a way to fulfill her life despite her brain injury when she decided to take a class in shoe making. Here is her story:
Last year I finished my MFA at the School of the Art Institute. I was in a three year program, and just before the start of my final year, I was in a car accident. The injuries that I sustained meant that in order to continue with, and finish, school, I would need to drastically alter my way of working and what I was working on. I took one class: shoemaking. It stuck, and I ended up focusing entirely on shoes. My thesis project was shoes (Muscle Memory). I worked extremely hard to graduate, and in mid-August of 2013, I finished my coursework.
I knew that I wanted to continue to make shoes, but in order to do that, one needs machines, tools, space and time. I thought that it would be too hard to try to wrangle up the equipment that I needed in Chicago, so I returned to Minnesota where I have family and friends.
The day before I left Chicago, I found an ad. Someone was looking to sell the contents of an entire shoe repair shop. All the machines, all the hand tools, all the tacks, shoelaces, and heels. I jumped on it, and within a week of finishing school, I had a shop. A really really nice shop.
The first month was mostly organizing and unpacking. It was slow and exhausting and dusty. I’m not very good at organizing, so it took a bit longer than I would have liked, but slowly things were taking shape. The second month, I decided to try to make a few things, and got re-inspired. Shoes, bags, shoes, and bags. I was working, and it felt so wonderful to be in my space, quiet if I need, loud if I want, and going at a pace that works for me.
I am keeping this blog because my memory is sometimes poor, and it’s nice to look back. But, more importantly, so many people have helped me so far, and reading accounts and seeing working processes of people doing something similar has been very helpful. So, here we go!
“I think of these shoes as being a document of ongoing recovery. My life and the way that I understand and identify myself has changed drastically since the accident last summer. But, beyond my own narrative, my hope is that others will be able to identify with some of the movements, shapes, and sensations that the shoes cause. We are all perfectly unique in our experiences, and also completely similar. While these shoes are born out of my own storyline, I am not unique in dealing with chronic pain, memory loss, or the healing process.” Amara