Block Museum Storytelling Event Brings Together University & Public Libraries

My shoes
your shoes
and other people’s shoes.
speaking shoes\
and shoe string budgets//

With not one promise for certainty
these simple choices:
a meandering of mouths, spirits, souls, and well
that never shined
so brightly.

-Misty De Berry,
For You, and Alison Knowles’ “Shoes of Your Choice” on the Night that was May 11, 2016


A two night storytelling event, Shoes of Your Choice, hosted by Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art in May 2016 brought together library patrons, performers and passersby at the Evanston Public Library and the Northwestern University Library to share personal tales of significant footwear.

Presented in conjunction with the Evanston Literary Festival, a ten day long celebration of the  vibrant literary community in Evanston Illinois, the event was a recreation of Alison Knowles classic fluxus performance, Shoes of Your Choice (1963).  In the performance score, Knowles asks the audience members to remove their shoes and share the unique history and qualities of the pair.

In the lobbies of both libraries students and community participants stood together in stocking feet and shared stories of shoes bought, shoes lost, shoes coveted, shoes ruined, shoes that danced and shoes that carried them through difficult miles. The stories shared ranged from the prepared to the spontaneous, the hilarious to the poignant.

The dual locations of the storytelling event worked to further connect Northwestern University and the Block Museum with the surrounding Evanston community. “We are honored to be part of this rich partnership between the University Library and the Public Library. This participatory work proved to be one of the most inclusive and unifying programs of the season. Everyone present could relate, everyone had a story,” said Lisa Corrin, Ellen Philips Katz Director of the Block Museum, who contributed a tale of her own.

This recreation of Shoes of Your Choice coincides with the Block Museum’s current exhibition, A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant Garde: 1960s-1980s. Shoes of Your Choice was performed at Charlotte Moorman’s 4th Annual Avant- Garde Festival held in Central Park in 1966.   Misty De Berry, Northwestern University PhD Candidate in Performance Studies, served as the MC for the Block Museum’s event on May 11th.  A poet and performer, De Betrry capped off the evening with an on-the-spot poem, inspired by the evening stories and storytellers.

Read Misty De Berry’s

For You, and Alison Knowles’ “Shoes of Your Choice” on the Night that was May 11, 2016


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