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  • a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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    sara at saraarts dot com

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How did I miss this one?

Uh, if it helps any, artists spend a hell of a lot of time to get their Jesus (Peter, Paul, and Mary) toes to look just perfect. Now, perfection is yours.

I will say that you have Medieval Jesus toes, which is probably a good thing. Since Renaissance and Baroque Jesus toes get all twisty and angsty.


See, Melissa, of all the readers of this blog, I knew -- KNEW -- that you, Mrs. Art History, would be the one to see and understand.

Yes! Medieval Jesus toes! Totally! Can you see the egg tempera on wood panel streaking, if not crackling? I can, too! Hallelujah, and pass the tequila.


Those are definitely Jesus toes. Didn't they have Mary ones available? ;-)


You know, it's funny, Leslee, but now that you mention it, I don't actually remember ever seeing Mary toes. I remember seeing Mary shoes (usu. blue slippers) and Mary bosoms (usu. w/attached baby Jesus), but I do not remember ever seeing Mary toes.

I'm not sure I've ever even seen Mary Magdalene toes.

This sounds like a job for Melissa, Super Art Historian. Melissa, if for some reason you come back here again and see this comment, please please help ease our burning curiosity and point us toward some Mary toes!


I'm looking into it!

My current project shows lots of Mary toes, but I'm looking around to see what's out there. I'll post links later!


Thank you, Melissa! I look forward to it!


Okay, in my current project on Federico Barocci's paintings (a 2009 show), there are Lady Toes. In lots of paintings, but here are two.

Example 1: Crucifixion, Urbino, 1566-67.

Example 2: Immaculate Conception, Urbino, 1575.

Medieval toes seem to be properly covered up with slippers of some kind. Although I don't rule out toes, since each sculpture or painting seems to be wearing the footwear of the day/country of origin. I just can't find it, I'll have to go to the museum and check out what we've got one day.

Now, Renaissance, Mannerist, and Baroque scultpure and paintings have toes. I wonder if this is because Classic images had bare feet (i.e. the Classic Nude).

Here are some other naked feet. I found several examples of naked Virgin and Magdalene feet.

Example 1: Death of the Virgin, Caravaggio, Louvre, 1606.

Example 2: Mary Magdalene, Algardi, San Silvestro al Quirinale, Rome, 1629.

Does that help?

Ron Sullivan

So, a temporary "tattoo" of a bloody hand-forged square nail on the top of the mechano/cosmetofoot?

And yeah, you got Jesus toes. Ever wonder if that's what somebody in the great chain of manufacture meant to convey in the first place?

Ask me about memories of the Kiss Jesus' Toes ceremony at church on Good Friday. With the priest daintily, if uselessly, using a hanky to wipe off the feet between kissers, all lined up in the central aisle. And you're an eight-year-old kid and wondering if it's good manners to aim your lips at the spike, or should it be the toes, or the trickle of blood, or what, and what if you make an autible kissy smack, and maybe you're supposed to, but what if you're not, and how fast can you get this over with because it's starting to get embarrassing, and how can you get in line ahead of your snot-nosed brother without making a scene, just how closely is the priest watching you and ditto the altar boy who's in the class ahead of you and you don't trust him because he's one of the altar boys who discovered the new game last winter of shuffling his feet as he and the priest walked along the Communion rail and then touching your throat ever so slightly with the paten, thus giving you a nasty static shock and you didn't dare leap up and holler because you're receiving Jesus after all, and you notice the string of little jerks and suppressed squeals every Sunday all along the rail as he does it to everyone else too.

Plus, you know, you're eight and sincerely believe Jesus died for your sins (though you haven't had nalf a chance to commit any yet) and you're feeling all sorry for Him and grateful and agonized and exalted at once, aside from the social considerations.

Growing up Catholic is just as weird as it's rumored to be.


Thank you, Melissa! It is SO helpful to have a scholar around!

I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get back to this, but I had to do a little research, and then I had some distractions. But now, at last, I can answer Leslee's question.

The answer is, no, I couldn't get Mary or Mary Magdalene toes. The answer is not, I believe, that they were or are unavailable. The answer is that the closest match to that shape of foot is simply not powerful enough for my needs. Again, I am not making snarky jokes about religion. I am telling the absolute truth! At least, I think I am.

Do you remember the computer platform "wars" of the '80s? If you had an Apple, it could not work with components designed for an IBM, which would not work with components designed for a Wang, etc., etc. Prosthetic limbs can be kind of like this. There is not, as far as I'm aware, any universal interface for the various components which make up each limb, and even if there is, it is not available on all models. An Össur foot will not fit on my Endolite leg, which cannot accommodate an Otto Bock computerized knee. It's just the way things are.

For my first prosthetic leg ever, based on my needs, resources, and lifestyle, my prosthetist selected for me a non-computerized knee on a carbon-fiber shin made by Endolite. This meant that I would also have to have an ankle and foot made by Endolite. Endolite makes a number of very fine feet. Only one of them was appropriate for my use at the time. This is because of my activity level.

When assessing the needs of a new or prospective amputee, doctors and technicians consider the activity level of which the patient is or means to be capable. The activity level is assessed at a level somewhere between K0, incapable of even transferring from one piece of furniture to another without other people's physical assistance, and K4, capable of doing pretty much whatever the patient wants whenever s/he is ready, including feats of extreme athleticism. I am a K4, though I will not be indulging in feats of extreme athleticism in this lifetime, thank you very much. I'd rather crochet and drink beer while watching documentaries about other people's extremely scary adventures, oh, and also walk wherever I want whenever I want. There will be few if any activities involving high speed and gravitational pull at the same time if I have any say in the matter. The only limitations I will accept, though, are self-imposed limitations, e.g., laziness, disinterest, etc.

Now that you know this, compare and contrast the examples of Mary and Mary Magdalene feet provided by Melissa, above, with this new foot by Endolite which, no, is not appropriate for me because I have a higher activity level than K2:

Endolite Navigator Foot

Yes! It looks much more Mary-ish than what I have, does it not? Of course, it is not shown in "real" light, nor in sandal view, so it is impossible to assess its relative holy painting comparison potential. I mean, look at this picture at the manufacturer's website of what I bought, and then compare to the photos I posted above.

Endolite Dynamic Response Foot

Here it doesn't look Jesus-y at all! But we know the truth about that. As my esteemed correspondent Teri (no website, alas) in California pointed out, my prosthetic foot looks very much like something sculpted by Benny Bufano. Check out the foot details of his St. Francis I or on St. Francis II, and you will see what she is talking about. Giant, connected, sculptural toes. Male toes.

Ron speculates above whether the manufacturer means to spread some kind of message through the suggestive shape of prosthetic toes. I actually have a much more nefarious suspicion. It is only a suspicion. Still, follow my twisted logic for a moment and see if you think I have grounds for concern.

The apparently much more "Mary" foot pictured at the link above is designed to help people at a level of no higher than K2 feel more confident getting out in the world. The way more "Jesus" foot I was sold is supposedly so springy and flexible it would let me jog or even play squash if I wanted to (though my experience running in this foot leads me to believe it would not be a particularly fleet or thrilling game). Now, all prosthetic feet, as far as I know, are designed with genderless intent. However, going strictly by the probably not very accurate photos on the manufacturer's website, it would seem to me that the more "Mary" feet, the frankly girlier-looking feet with the parted toes, are designed for a more passive lifestyle.

As a feminist, this piques my distaste. I like to think it's all accidental, and I even prefer to believe, based on my experience with manufacturer's photos v. real life, that if I saw the less active "Mary" foot in person I would instantly think "Jesus" or at least "Apostle" just as much as I do when I look at my own sandaled, squash-potential, fake foot. It's a difficult observation to quell, though.

Fortunately, the most active feet of all (which are made by Össur, not Endolite, which means I'll never have one -- but again, that's okay 'cause I don't really need to sprint anywhere, neither through the woods nor isto the bakery down the street) are undeniably unisex.


Oh, and no, Ron, I don't think I'll be going with the temp tattoo you describe (though I did snicker at the idea). Truth is, it would make me wince every time I looked at it. Whenever curiosity, a concert, or some kind of social obligation draws me inside a church, I can't even look at whatever's over the altar, not unless it's completely abstracted.

Paisley. I'm definitely going with paisley. I like paisley.


Excellent response, dear Sara! I like to think it's not an intentional difference, but I am not sure it isn't something done by cultural norms. I do wonder how the lighting affects the overall image here.

As for church, I'm with ya. Luckily I partnered with someone who can't stop whispering in horrifying, gutteral French, "Henri! Henri. Henri!" as we sit in the pews. Henri = INRI over the body of the crucified Jesus. The Jesus with the Jesus toes, not being very active I must say.


I don't know, Melissa. I think rising from the dead without the help of a PT or even a nurse has got to qualify the guy as at least a K3.


I thought Jesus toes were when your toe next to your big toe was longer than your big toe.


Oh, so this is a real, already existing expression? I had no idea.

The things you learn from blogging!

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