Muses shoe workshop walks through process behind Mardi Gras classic


Colin Yaccarino | Photography Editor

The decoration involved in the Krewe of Muses’ iconic throw will be demonstrated in a workshop that runs on Jan. 31 and Feb. 7.

Mardi Gras krewes are as integral to New Orleans culture as jazz bands and Cajun food. Among the most iconic of the parades, few krewes rival the all-female Muses in popularity of prestige.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 23, the krewe parades through Uptown New Orleans distributing, among other items, the highly coveted, hand-decorated high-heeled shoes to a few lucky spectators.

The ornately decorated shoes, the trademark “throw” of the Muses, inspired a two-part shoe decorating workshop hosted by the Newcomb Art Museum. The event will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on two days, Jan. 31 and Feb. 7. During the workshop, Assistant Provost for Finance and Operations Alysia Loshbaugh, a current riding member of Muses, will walk attendees through the process of decorating the shoes.

The first night is more to create a foundation for the shoe with color schemes and textures. The second day will focus on the true extravagant embellishment to produce the throws that have garnered so much local fame.

Prior experience or knowledge of art, however, is not a prerequisite for the workshop. Coordinator for Engagement and Public Interpretation Thomas Friel believes that everyone has artistic potential.

“I feel that everybody should be able to tap into their creativity. Whether they connect with being an artist or not, everybody has creativity, and especially in this city,” Friel said. “This city is unique in that everybody can find a time in the year to break out their creative side, and Mardi Gras is really about that.”

Before becoming a riding member of Muses, Loshbaugh had little artistic experience. When she had the opportunity to substitute for a friend in the parade a couple years ago, she found a hidden passion and talent decorating the shoes she would need to hand out.

“I’m very much a numbers, operations type of person, and so this allowed me to use the other side of my brain and just be more creative, and I find it really relaxing,” Loshbaugh said.

Loshbaugh and Friel hope the workshop will help students uncover their own creativity, as well as foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the effort and creativity that goes into decorating the shoes.

“The amount of embellishment in just any particular shoe is pretty amazing, and there’s a lot of work that goes into them,” Friel said. “So, it might, even for the participants, . . . be kind of eye-opening how much really goes into making these.”

Attendees must pre-register and pay a $40 fee to cover supplies and refreshments. To RSVP, email Tom Friel at [email protected].

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