We have all heard that age-old saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, and this new exhibit in Downtown Denver is aiming to use the experience to inspire empathy.
If you have been in downtown Denver lately, you may have seen the giant shoebox that has appeared on the 16th Street Mall at the Tall Tracks Plaza across from Union Station. Inside, there are more than 30 pairs of shoes accompanied by recorded stories of the people they belonged to. Visitors can put on the shoes and listen to the stories of those who wore them.
From now until September 28, visitors can try on a pair of shoes, hear the life that the wearer has lived, and possibly get a new perspective on their own lives. The shoes and the stories all are from people who live right here in Denver. While it may seem uncomfortable to try on a stranger’s pair of shoes, that's really a part of the whole experience; using that discomfort as a starting point in order to understand and have empathy for what others have been through.
The exhibit was developed by an English artist Clare Patey and is part of the Empathy Museum, a series of participatory art projects dedicated to helping people look at the world through other people’s eyes. The traveling museum explores "how empathy can not only transform our personal relationships but also help tackle global challenges such as prejudice, conflict, and inequality."
The stories shared are deeply personal: a sneaker from an athlete who is also an amputee, a work boot from a construction worker; stories of those who make up our community sharing what has shaped them.
Courtesy of Biennial of the Americas (Facebook)
The Biennial of the Americas Festival is a festival that will be held in Denver on September 25-28. It's an international celebration of art, music, culture, and thought that aims to connect academic, cultural, business, and civic leaders together. The four days will be filled with workshops events and performances.
Check out this video from the Empathy Museum sharing reactions of visitors to previous locations of the exhibits:
What do you think about the project and the idea of teaching empathy through this kind of hands-on, er, shoes-on experience? Will you be headed down to 16th Street to check it out? Sound off in the comments below.