The installation Secret Outing consists of a large, antique seven-foot-tall wooden armoire with yards and yards of red silk flowing forth like a river unleashed from its interior. Attached to the silk are many pairs of fanciful shoes, hand-made from paper and gauze fabric, each pair uniquely whimsical and fairytale-like.

The impulse for creating the piece came from when I was age 12, struggling with ambivalence about the metamorphosis I was undergoing. I felt embarrassed to express any hint of femininity during the months as I was beginning to enter womanhood. For about a year I was mortified to appear feminine, and strongly boycotted all things girly. As I transitioned to discovering that I liked being a girl—and looking like one—(shortly before my 13th birthday), I felt timid about revealing this change of heart (and change of fashion), wondering if I would be laughed at by those who knew me well. Secret Outing refers to secretly “outing” myself at age 12 as a feminine girl who likes girly things. It also refers to a fantasy in which all these beautiful, fanciful shoes, locked up in the old armoir by day, making their secret outing by night, and coming out to play and dance while everyone sleeps. It has a fairytale-like quality for me that resonates with my 12-year-old self who was still hungry for childhood magic yet was unsure of its changing role in my life.

© 2014 Jan Zoya. All rights reserved.