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appear attempts to capture something fleeting in our culture, an image of the feminine or an image of courtship that is outdated and yet continues to leave traces throughout our culture.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?