Monday, April 7, 2008

Glass Slipper

Do you know how many artists are actually making glass slippers (never in a pair), and how many bridal shops are called The Glass Slipper? It is remarkable. This beautiful slipper to the left, with its attendant mice, is the work of Francine Zaslow; the slipper below I found at the Crystal Fox Gallery, which showcases glass sculpture of many kinds. Beautiful and frighteningly fragile, these glass sculptures appear attempts to capture something fleeting in our culture, an image of the feminine or an image of courtship that is outdated and yet continues to leave traces throughout our culture.

Perhaps the slippers are nostalgic, a longing for the stories and safety of a childhood image of the world, one brought to young consumers by Disney and by bedtime stories and by a million Barbie commercials. Or maybe the slippers have their appeal because of a longing for romantic chivalry that has proven persistent amid the upheavals in gender conventions over the past decades?

To me, they are beautiful as art objects. I cannot imagine anyone wearing them, but in their breathtaking fragility and in the way the light shines off their edges, these glass slippers look like artifacts that someone from Faerie left behind. No doubt that is what the prince thought when he found Cinderella's one slipper left behind on the stair, no doubt he thought her an otherworldly beauty, someone as likely to have a faerie grandmother as a faerie godmother, for all her scrubbing of the kitchen floor. Stranger yet the slippers seem to me, a man in a generation in which men are taught that women, while fascinating, are not divine nor would they allow themselves to be confined or treated as any Victorian "angel of the house," but they are real human beings struggling to comb their hair and pay the bills. These slippers, in their shining light, must have been dropped not by any human woman but by some elf in the garden -- surely they can have no connection with someone I might take to a dance or someone who may want to split the cost of dinner.

I must ask some of my friends what these slippers look like to the eyes of a woman viewer. Do they arouse disgust? Longing? Curiosity? Laughter? Wonder?


Anonymous said...

They invoke a longing for a Deep green woods and a beautiful gown and fairy lights in the trees. They bring to mind my grandmothers voice as she tells stories as I fall to sleep under an apple tree in bloom. The first image brings up a welling of daydreams that I have not experienced since childhood. And I can assure you that I am a woman and feel no disgust when looking at these pictures.

hmmmm ... said...

I was just wondering about this glass slipper thing -- a symbol that's practically taken over the cinderella legend (which is quite a feat). It's become even more powerful than the story. You can sense how deep this image goes even if you don't completely understand it.

Still, it seems pretty clear ... get picked, and escape the inevitable life of drudgery, cinder stains and obligations. If you can find the wealthy icon to mark you out and hand you the glass slipper, from there you can walk (or waltz) on air throughout your life ... a lucky exception to the human rule. For the very wealthiest, this is almost a true story. And women have always known that even the poorest beauty has a shot at the glass slipper.

I don't feel disgust or delight, but something between curiosity and indifference. Still, it surprises me that modern women have that 'glass slipper' moment where the tears well up (when they try on the dress, for example). Marriage & intimacy are very hard. Compromise, cinders and an increased housework load are inevitable. There's no walking on air for non-society brides.

Ishq said...

Cinderella is a story that speaks to the soul, it is not a fairy tale of princes & hidden princesses but a story of the Lover & Beloved....a European version of Rumi if you'll indulge my gross comparison.
The glass slipper is a piece of cinderella in her purest form, it is part of her essence, as it is fashioned for her and only her by her fairy godmother (her spiritual guide), and it is through this slipper that the lover and beloved come together, are separated and ultimately unite.

It is crystaline, just as our (humans) True nature is...yet it is material, because it is of this world. Some may confuse it with affluence of this world but the wise recognize it is wealth of a different nature...and all of us are we fall in love with the story...and we romance the shoe....for most of us have no idea how to unite with the Beloved....but in this shoe is the is a sign, a divine sign that will lead you home