Renée Snelson has an organic, graphic, and colorful shoe obsession. She thinks shoes are transformative when you want them to be, but also practical and absolutely inevitable in the modern world. To her, they are tiny sculptures – from the molds and craftsmanship to the silhouette and wear-ability, you can feel the art every step of the way.
Snelson a.k.a XORS, produces splashy street art around New York City, mastering large-scale murals and pop art paintings in public places that certainly catch our eye. We love Snelson’s figurative notion that your shoes speak to where you’ve been and where you’re going – all the more reason to document them through vibrant art.
Art Zealous sat down with Snelson to chat about the fashion and art sectors as well as her fabulous shoe collection.
Art Zealous: Favorite spot in NYC?
Renée Snelson: Jivamukti Yoga.
AZ: Favorite color?
RS: I’ve been drawn to white lately…some people would argue that’s not a color!
AZ: How many shoes are in your closet?
RS: I lost count! I love to wear the shoes I design and I wear them to death. I do have an extended closet, AKA storage.
AZ: Please tell us about the tortuous world of fashion and the competitiveness of girl culture.
RS: Well, fashion is intense in every sense. The industry is fast paced, demanding and soul sucking. It’s harsh on the environment, whether you use leather or not.
At a certain point, it started to not make sense to me. Especially since there is this unattainable aspect to it, with our ridiculous standards of beauty and the idea to always be on trend. The ‘buy now wear now’ mentality has mistreated clothes and shoes like throw-away items because they are no longer relevant. It’s all very wasteful and distracting from real issues.
I say that but I’m also intrigued by design and want to express myself through wearable fashion, so that is where the contradiction lays within my work. The love/hate is strong, especially with the competitiveness of girl culture that kind feeds into the whole thing as well. There are the aforementioned unrealistic beauty standards, the idea that women compare themselves to each other, and that models and Photoshop create a negative narrative.
It may seem like a blanket statement but I think that as women, we look at ourselves through a magnifying glass lens, creating unnecessary insecurities rather than embracing how we are, and that in turn creates this competitive dynamic. But I do think a lot of it is fueled by the industry constantly pumping ideas of perfection it in our faces.
AZ: The art and fashion sectors are cross-pollinating more than ever, how do you view the relationship between the two?
RS: I think art and design are visionary forms of both expression and commerce. They feed off of each other -I think they always have. Pop culture is a pulse and it’s important to embrace it in order to be relevant. Both fashion and art are intertwined within pop culture, so it’s inevitable to incorporate it within the same dialog.
AZ: Tell us about the process of making street art in NYC.
RS: It all depends on the wall and location. I would say overall, it’s always a challenge. You have to factor in weather and textured surfaces, as well as unplanned circumstances. For me, I do stencil art on the street, so there’s a layering process. The scale and design also changes the preparation. If my stencil is really intricate, I have to figure out how to cut corners because when you’re on the street, there is more of a time sensitivity. And wind is a bitch. I will say, after every wall I learn something new and to me that’s exciting. Each experience is so invaluable.
AZ: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
RS: A lot more art and a lot more walls I hope! I just had my first art show with my art partner, Flood, showing now at The Storefront Project up until January 3rd. I hope to get more shows and continue to push myself into doing new and exciting work!
Follow Renee on Instagram @reneexors.
all photos courtesy of the artist