Eleanor Spiess-Ferris

The Red Shoe, 1983

American, 1941

Spiess-Ferris relates that the story of the Red Shoe originated with an experience she had of coveting a pair of beautiful red shoes. She was unable to squeeze her size 7 feet into the size 6 shoes and the red shoes came to symbolize the unattainable. This drawing shows the splendid red shoe escaping and being carried away by the wind over a vast cornfield. Always the consummate storyteller who constantly invents new tales, Spiess-Ferris also has recounted a childhood association to the red shoes as those worn by her rebellious Aunt Maggie on her wild rides through the streets of Taos, New Mexico.

While her own personal mythology inspires Spiess-Ferris, she encourages each viewer to create their own associations and to actively engage in their own storytelling when considering her work.

Spiess-Ferris professes affinity with Surrealist Paul Delvaux, the nineteenth-century Symbolist Gustave Moreau, and Hieronymus Bosch, the Dutch sixteenth-century master of fantastic moral and religious narratives. Her work has often been linked with the Imagists for its storytelling, personal mythology and surrealist forms. She is included in the permanent collections of the Block Museum, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and the Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois.

Gift of the artist, 2011