Journey Shoes: Walking In the Cycle of Violence

October 16, 2012

Journey Shoes: Cycle of Violence

Over at 6 Degrees of Creativity 2, I have waited to begin Magdalena Karlick‘s Journey Shoes workshop until this month, as I knew I wanted to do something around the shoes and Domestic Violence Awareness, which the month of October recognizes.

Magdalena’s workshop encourages exploration of a journey or experience through altering one’s own shoes or used shoes as symbols and expressions of these journeys. Read more about the concept behind Magdalena’s project with graduate art therapy students at Southwestern College here.

The pair of shoes I used for this project are not my own, but an abandoned, unwearable pair from the domestic violence shelter I work in offering art therapy to women and children. The shoes tell a story about the cycle of violence victims of abuse endure and its impact.

The top of the shoes are labeled and then stitched with components of the cycle of violence: acting out, tension building, minimizing, and then a period of calm.  The inside soles of the shoes include black and white portraits representing victims and feelings of (but not limited to) hurt, shame, fear, and guilt.  The shoes are displayed on a canvas board I’ve distressed with ink, beeswax, and collaged with dictionary definitions related to finding safety and hope.

Awareness and education about domestic violence has often been communicated through the symbolism of shoes in the form of educational exhibits, empathy based programming, fundraising walks or drives, and memorializing displays.

Check out these current or past activities involving shoes related to domestic violence:

In the future, I would like to create a response that uses another pair of shoes that highlights survivorship, resiliency, and new beginnings, as well as think more about how to incorporate this workshop’s prompt into my clinical work.

Thank you to Magdalena for sharing her powerful Journey Shoes idea!

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5 Responses to “Journey Shoes: Walking In the Cycle of Violence”


  1. Thank you Gretchen for sharing this very powerful piece with us.


  2. Thanks Hannah… it’s been so very interesting to learn about the symbolism of shoes for communicating different aspects of important issues….


  3. Gretchen, that’s so powerful and so poignant, thanks for sharing.
    Big love AJ 🙂

  4. nuvofelt Says:

    A vivid illustration. Thanks for sharing

  5. gonerustic Says:

    This is a very powerful piece of art, and it really resonated with me! Thank you =D


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