Artist Didi Rojas makes trendy clay shoes
The New York subway is a fashion show. People from all walks of life show off their personalities, mostly through their all-black outfits and sneakers. Artist Didi Rojas started paying attention to these outfits, especially shoes, around 2016 when the hype for Air Force 1, Converses, and Stan Smiths started to build up in New York City.
“Shoes in general are self-portraits of people.”
âShoes in general are self-portraits of people. It’s either you use them out of necessity and they serve to support your feet, âRojas, 26, told Remezcla. “There is also the part that they allow you to show a little more for yourself if you have the option to actually choose the shoes you want to wear.”
It is on the latter that the Colombian-born artist has focused in his sculptural shoe-making, a series that has grown from Nikes and Crocs to Balenciagas and Uggs, and has now built 10,000 followers on Instagram.
Rojas was inspired to start her ceramic shoe collection with her own pair of Air Force 1. The set, she said, was so worn it looked like it was made of clay, so she put it on. ‘offered to his twin.
âI thought it would be really cool to try and recreate them in this medium,â she says. âSince then, it’s an obsession.
“I thought it would be really cool to try and recreate them in this medium.”
As an artist, Rojas mainly focused on working with ceramics. She attended the Pratt Institute in New York, where she majored in illustration. But she says ceramics have always caught her attention, so she ended up experimenting with the medium in a series of projects at school. Getting her hands dirty is a lesson she learned from her father, she says, who she remembers always taking the time to teach her and her brother to draw after school.
âThere was this idea of ââtaking time for the things that you are passionate about,â Rojas says.
The family moved from Cali, Colombia to New Jersey when she was 4 years old. At the time, they had different factory jobs.
This education is at the center of his latest work. After years of creating ceramics from sneaker models, Rojas is now inspired by Uggs, the official shoe of the American suburbs. She remembers people from her high school wearing a uniform separate from Uggs, leggings and North Face jackets and understands that there is a certain association between sheepskin boots and the kind of people, mostly young women, who wear them.
“I have the impression that a lot of people are attracted to or want to stay away from [them] because of the people you associate wearing them, âshe said. âI’m starting to think about the different brands and their place in our culture.
âI’m starting to think about the different brands and their place in our culture.
For this series, Rojas constructed a range of pieces, mainly groups of two to four Ugg boots mounted on top of each other, which can be read as a statement about the proliferation of these shoes in the United States.
The work she devoted to her ceramics has paid off, not only on Instagram but also offline. In 2019, she presented her solo show “You Are Doing Amazing Sweetie” at Launch F18. The exhibit featured 20 pieces from his shoe series, which were supposed to show the âconnection with the everyday and the meaning these objects have for the human experienceâ, as described by the gallery’s website.
Beyond distinctions, Rojas loves to work. She creates her pieces, which can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months, in a studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn that she shares with other artists. Although ceramics can be an expensive medium, she says maintaining her artistic space is her main concern.
Lately, Rojas has been experimenting with a new design that includes a pair of tall boots connected to each other, like Siamese twins.
âIt took me a long time to say that I am an artist working in ceramics.
“So far that’s what surprised me the most, âshe says.
She also began making ceramics from handbag designs, including the famous Jacquemus small bag that Lizzo popularized at last year’s American Music Awards.
As a Latina artist in a white-dominated space, Rojas just hopes to continue doing the artistic work that nourishes her. For four years now, her ceramics have become her âpracticeâ and her goal is to continue making them, despite the impostor of evil voices syndrome that feeds her.
âIt took me a long time to say that I am an artist working with ceramics. I think now I put so much importance on it, that this is really what I want to do.