In // Sensitive

Shoes are amongst the three-dimensional found forms onto which Marina Dempster works her contemporary translation of the pre-Columbian Huichol tradition of “yarn painting”.  Immersed in this attentive and time-honoured process, multicultural ethnography meets haute couture as she autonomously concerns herself with issues of personal connection to one’s histories and futures by nurturing present narratives, environments, communities and cultures.

These fashion relics are re-adopted and undergo extraordinary ‘back-to-nature’ metamorphoses in Dempster’s charge, becoming magical fetish objects symbolic of our capacity for both healing and reinvention. This transfiguration process is necessarily slow moving and layered, and requires repetitive rhythms and rituals and the use of higher faculties to both re-pattern and re-member the self.

The titles, adjectives of human states of being, speak with irony to the illusory and transient nature of self-perception and the infinite perspectives available to us. Dempster’s sculptures embody an understanding that to change, or evolve, one must first be willing to ‘try on something new’ to reclaim our wholeness, stepping beyond what has been prescribed, conditioned or neglected to realign with a more essential and empowered truth.

While Dempster's sculptures become artifacts of working through her own entanglements, her personal mappings or tracks speak to us at a deeper level where our latent hopes and fears are reflected. Dempster invites us to playfully contemplate the confounding high-heel, “while being everything that pinches, it elevates us in inches, and inevitably makes us more sensitive to the ground we walk on.” - a reminder that we get to choose how to use the power of our imaginations.

"Artist Marina Dempster has a marvelous ability to astonish and amaze. Her scintillating sculptural shoes engage the viewer on so many levels. The work is enriched by her cultural heritage and autonomously translated into the present.

Whether you are mesmerized by her meticulous skill, captivated by her imagination or transfixed by the use of colour, motif, materials and design; one is bound to start thinking of shoes in a completely different way."

–  Melanie Egan, Head of Craft Department, Harbourfront Centre


Immune (adj.): 1. Having immunity to infection. 2. Exempt, as from obligation or duty 3. Protected from danger.

Materials: found shoes, beeswax/pine resin, beads, yarns, recycled rabbit fur, porcupine quills, Macaw & Flamingo feathers (Toronto Zoo donations).



Horny (adj.): 1. of or resembling horn ie. hard and rough. 2. feeling or arousing sexual excitement. 3. having a hard calloused surface or texture.

Materials: found shoe, bees' wax/pine resin, glass seed beads, upcycled rabbit fur from coat, antique deer horns.




Voracious (adj.) 1. having a very eager approach to an activity. 2. having a huge appetite, insatiable.

Materials: found shoe, bees' wax/pine resin, glass seed beads, threads, vintage false teeth found at Brick Lane market, London, UK.




Mutable (adj.): 1. Subject to change or alteration. 2. Prone to frequent change; inconsistent; fickle. 3. Capable of change or of being changed.

Materials: donated shoes, beeswax/pine resin, glass and crystal beads, silk threads, dyed badger hair/recycled fly fishing supplies.



Receptive (adj.): 1. Open and responsive to ideas, impressions, or suggestions. 2. Fit to receive and transmit signals or stimuli. 3. Willing to copulate.

Materials: found shoe, beeswax/pine resin, hand dyed wool, metallic thread, silver beads.



Reflexive (adj.): 1. directed or turned back on itself 2. marked by or capable of reflection. 3. characterized by habitual and unthinking behavior.

Materials: Found shoe, mother of pearl buttons, shells, silver and glass seed beads.



Ebullient (adj.): 1. cheerful and full of energy. 2. agitated as if boiling. 3. showing liveliness.

Materials: found shoe, beeswax/pine resin, glass seed beads, macaw feathers (Toronto Zoo donations).



Exuberant (adj.): 1. Full of unrestrained high spirits; abandonedly joyous. 2. Lavish; effusive; overflowing. 3. Growing or producing abundantly; luxuriant.

Materials: mixed media; charity shop shoes, bee' wax/pine resin, antique lace and embroidery threads, silk, acryclic and metallic threads, feathers donated by Birdworld (Farnham, Surrey), ivory tea pot handles.

Private collection


Sensational (adj.): 1. Of or relating to sensation or the senses. 2. Suggesting drama or a stage performance, as in emotionality or suspense. 3. Particularly excellent.

Materials: found shoe, cera de campeche, galvanized sil- ver and gold beads, laces, hand-painted wool

Private collection


Defensive (adj.): 1. Used or intended to defend or protect. 2. Very anxious to challenge or avoid criticism.

Materials: vintage shoe, cera de campeche, glass seed beads, silk thread, gilded thorns, Swarovski crystals.


other artwork



Sculptural quartet of beaded basketballs

Harmony of the Spheres


In // Habit


In // The Time Being


Dear Friends // Near Enemies

Commissioned bust

Commissioned Bust


Other Artifacts

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