“Los Zapatos Rojos” Exhibition Travels onto GVSU’s Campus to Highlight Violence Against Women

Los Zapatos Rojos in Turin, Italy, 2013

Following their journey through Mexico, Texas and Italy, a group of red shoes is marching onto Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus this weekend to bring attention to violence against women and human trafficking.

The installation, “Los Zapatos Rojos” (The Red Shoes) is the work of Mexican artist Elina Chauvet, who first created the piece in 2009 in Juárez, Mexico, to raise awareness about the number of women and girls who had gone missing from the community.

Chauvet will accompany the exhibit to Grand Rapids on Saturday and appear at two panel discussions about violence against women taking place on Oct. 23-24.

The public is invited to visit the installation on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and to participate by adding a pair of red shoes along with a message honoring a victim of violence or trafficking to the piece. The color red was selected because it represents both women and womanhood, but also death and the blood of women victims.

Zulema Moret, a professor in GVSU’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, invited Chauvet to GVSU. Moret learned about “Los Zapatos Rojos” after doing research for her essay on memory and art.

“I have read about her installation and I have included it in my scholarly work,” Moret said. She decided to incorporate Chauvet’s work into her Art and Society in Latin America class.

“We are studying the different ways artistic work is giving voice to many problems in the history of Latin America. Art was a tool to denounce and to express the lack of social and political justice in Latin America and all over the world,” Moret explained.

Los Zapatos Rojos in El Paso, Texas, 2012
Los Zapatos Rojos in El Paso, Texas, 2012

Moret said she hopes the installation will raise awareness about feminicidio, or the murder of women, and other violence directed at women and children taking place everyday across the globe. She also hopes it will help women heal.

In preparation for the exhibition, shoes have been painted in churches, clubs, schools and other venues in Grand Rapids and Wyoming, during the last three weeks. “The painting in groups and with the community plays an important role in the whole process, it is letting people share their beliefs on violence and on the situation of women in the global and local context,” Moret said.

The event is being held on Saturday, October 21, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. in the DeVos Center courtyard, 401 Fulton St. W, on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

Two panel discussions are also being held the following week, one in English and the other in Spanish.

Oct. 23, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., at DeVos Center, Loosemore Auditorium: panelists are Grand Valley faculty members Anna Campbell, Wendy Burns-Ardolino and Sebastian Massiel; Grand Valley Center for Women and Gender Equity director Jessica Jennrich; and community members Shannon Cohen and Tara Aday.

Oct. 24, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., at Catholic Information Center, 360 Division Ave, in Grand Rapids: panelists are Sarai Contreras, YMCA of West Michigan; Leyla Flores, Spectrum Health; Gabriella de la Vega, Locutora de Radio; Daisy Madrigal, Hispanic Center of West Michigan; and Carmen Parra, St. Joseph the Worker Parish. This event will be presented in Spanish.

For more information visit GVSU.

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