The Clarks Desert Boot is the original Desert Boot. Born in the desert. In 1949. It was
the first of its kind. An icon that revolutionized footwear.
Jim Denevan is Santa Cruz-based artist who creates temporary drawings on sand, earth, and ice that are eventually erased by waves and weather. In honor of Clarks’ 65th anniversary of the Desert Boot, Jim was commissioned to create the boot print in the sand of the Mojave Desert.
Q: What is it you like about sand?
JIM: There’s a lot of it as a medium – it’s available. You can push it around and it changes shape overtime; you can try something else when it blows away or washes away.
Q: What inspired you to pursue this?
JD: I think everyone has something in them that they desire to express. For me, movement and expression, and geometry – these things are very interesting. The sun has a certain position in the sky, the clouds are passing, the wind changes during the day, there are all kinds of natural phenomena that happen with the sound and the light; and so this is a place where those things are happening.
Q: With this particular project, what was the plan?
JD: First thing that came to mind was to make very large text. Also, one aspect of this project is that with these kinds of spaces I don’t really know how soft or hard the ground is, which turned out to be perfect here for doing big drawings. But I’ve gone to other places where it’s a struggle to make a line, really difficult.
Q: The boot itself is kind of an original too. You know, it was the first one, it was made in the desert. Do you appreciate that sort of history?
JD: I’m really excited about origin stories, many things I do in my life are related to finding the foundation – you know, like where meaning comes from. Origins stories are very powerful and they’re real, you know. Sure there’s romance or embellishment when we think about where things come from but I think they should be recognized.
Q: So just in terms of originality, why is it important to be artistically original?
JD: I think it’s incredibly important for an artist to be original. I think a lot of people will say there is nothing original, that there is just inspiration from other people that have done something. And sure, that may be true that there are people that inspire; but for me, to make art that has never been done, where no one has ever devoted their days and months and years to drawing in the sand. Actually from the perspective of being an artist, I think that art has the potential to touch people when there’s a visual language people haven’t seen before, or that they’re not familiar with. I think that’s true with music and the visual arts, and to consider this enormous dry lake to be a place to make compositions, not a lot of people think about that. But it’s a fantastic place to do that; and when someone sees something in a place like this versus on a sheet of paper, a lot of pieces of paper / painting, this is a different kind of medium.
Q: Do you consider yourself a pioneer of this medium?
JD: Definitely. Being the pioneer of this medium is something that drives me to explore the potential of it; and the fact that these kinds of places are changing all the time, then I’m always offered a new canvas or sheet of paper as it were. That’s the thing that gets me super excited about it and trying new stuff.