Pumped: The Art & Craft of Shoemaking to Open May 7

Year of the Collection” continues with stylish new show

NOTE NEW CLOSING DATE: Whether you prefer simple sneakers or sexy stilettos, every visitor will find something to enjoy in the fashionable new exhibition Pumped: The Art & Craft of Shoemaking , which will be on view at Mint Museum Uptown from May 7 through August 28, 2016.

“Shoes are the finishing touch to your outfit, but they are also much more than that,” said Rebecca Elliot, Assistant Curator for Craft, Design, & Fashion at the Mint, who curated the exhibition. “Well-made shoes are a testament to the talents of many people, whether it’s the craftsperson who shaped the leather by hand to create a unique design or the inventor who developed a machine that made shoes more widely affordable.”

Drawn entirely from Mint’s renowned Fashion Collection, Pumped is the first exhibition to view this collection through the lens of craft. The ancient tradition of shoemaking has much in common with other crafts represented at the museum, such as ceramics, glass, and metalwork. Like them, shoemaking at the highest level of quality requires a thorough knowledge of one or more materials with unique characteristics—in this case mainly leather, but also fabric, plastics, and other substances. Such knowledge is obtained through many hours of practice, whether the techniques used are centuries old or twenty-first century.

As with other crafts, industrialization changed shoemaking, enabling mass production and introducing new materials. Yet the desire for bespoke (custom-made) footwear persisted, and so did traditional methods. Today, different shoemakers occupy different points on a continuum of approaches from the most hands-on to the most automated. Since the 1980s there has been a resurgence of interest in the craft from both hobbyists and entrepreneurs who work in a studio setting, using relatively few machines. In the twenty-first century, others have used innovative technologies such as CAD (computer-assisted design) and 3D printing to radically rethink the design process and end product. Pumped features footwear ranging in date from the early 1700s to 2015. In addition to over one hundred pairs of shoes and related materials, the exhibition includes a display of shoemaking tools.

This exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum and generously sponsored by The Founders’ Circle Ltd.

Special exhibition admission is required in order to view Pumped along with its companion exhibition drawn from the Mint’s permanent collection, Here & Now: 80 Years of Photography at the Mint. Admission is $24 for adults with discounts for students, seniors, and children, and Mint members always receive unlimited free admission.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a slate of public programming including a “Taste of the Mint” tour, a Sunday Fun Day, and workshops aimed at teen students ages 14-18 as part of the NexGen Mint program. Details on programming are available at mintmuseum.org/happenings .

Members of the media are invited to preview the exhibition at 10 a.m. May 4 at Mint Museum Uptown. RSVP to leigh.dyer@mintmuseum.org.

Above image:

Saks Fifth Avenue (retailer; New York, 1902–). Evening/Cocktail Shoes, circa 1965, silk grosgrain ribbon, kid leather, crystal rhinestones. Charles Mo Collection. 2004.8.16b. Collection of The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina.