Shoes are a woman’s best friend …and more

A collection of never-seen-before photographs showcasing women of the Cayman Islands will be on display at “A Day in My Shoes – Grand Cayman, Take 2” event, and it’s all for a worthy cause – the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.  

The Crisis Centre is a charitable organization that provides safe, temporary shelter and support services for abused women and their children, as well as education programs regarding domestic abuse and sexual violence. Their location is kept secret, so that all who are assisted know they are safe.  

The event, which takes place at Camana Bay on Oct. 10, 2014, will include cocktails and canapés as guests peruse 42 photographs taken by San Francisco–based photographer Amy Martin-Friedman, who conceived the concept in 2008, several years after going through her own abusive relationship.  

She first exhibited the project in 2012 in a number of U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City, as well as in Grand Cayman. The project is also the same title and subject of her glossy coffee table book, which will be on sale during the event. 

“I do this work to help women who don’t feel like they can tell their story – like no one is listening and no one will understand. Telling a story, standing tall in your shoes, leaving the abuse behind and moving on and strutting in your shoes with purpose and dignity is what my work is all about,” she said. 

Janette Goodman, project manager of the event and a board member at the Crisis Centre, said that the project is a creative approach that brings attention to a problem in communities where it is uncomfortable to discuss. 

“Shoes are an incredible discussion point – either to share where they took you, where you bought them to how they make you feel. The thread is the shoes; the shoes help direct the photographs, and the photographs lead a woman to the story (or vice versa) and together they construct the tapestry of the event,” she said. 

In the spirit of the campaign, the models’ faces and identities are hidden from view. Each model or group of models paid $675 for their photography session, which included a ticket to the event, as well as a canvas reproduction of their session. Goodman said that, thanks to these women, the group’s goal of 40 paid sessions was exceeded. 

“We had 38 sessions in 2012 and 42 sessions this year. We are always grateful to our sponsors who allow us to give five clients of the shelter the privilege of being photographed, attend the reception, and receive the book. The experience for many has been truly cathartic – to be able to tell your story in a public way, yet remain anonymous,” she said. 

She added, “The shots are taken in a location which is decided upon by the model(s) who is making the donation. We have been in homes, George Town, Camana Bay, the piers, beaches, the National Gallery [of the Cayman Islands], offices, and more – the locations mean something to the person who is being photographed. What is seen is the woman and her shoes, but not her face. It is coupled with a story, a story which we can then insert ourselves into ….” 

Proceeds from the event, which includes money raised from each photo shoot, ticket sales for the exhibition opening night, as well as the sale of the book, will go directly to helping with the day-to-day operating costs at the Crisis Centre. 

“Not only will we have raised important funds for the ongoing operations of the shelter, but we will have raised awareness within the community,” said Goodman, adding, “All of the women who took part in the photography project are very courageous and we thank them for standing up against violence and supporting the work of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.”
Martin-Friedman cherished her time in Cayman while working with the women who participated in the project.

“This project and my work brings people closer together for a far too often epidemic that is seen as ugly and the fault of the woman involved. If you learn one thing from this opening, it is that you could find yourself in many of these women’s shoes. Because the project and participants are anonymous, it gives all involved a moment to share themselves and allow vulnerability; and to share your words with so many women who can learn and move forward in life. The violence ends when you say ‘No more!’” 

“A Day in My Shoes – Grand Cayman, Take 2” takes place in Camana Bay, next to Eclipze Design & Day Spa, on Friday, Oct. 10, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 at the door (children under 12 are free) or can be pre-purchased from Janette Goodman (525-7516) at human resources office at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. If you would like to learn more about the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, visit www.cicc.ky. 

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A photograph that will be in the upcoming ‘A Day in My Shoes – Take 2″ exhibition. Photo: Amy Martin-Friedman.

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A photograph of a model from 2012’s “A Day in My Shoes” Grand Cayman exhibition. Photo: Amy Martin-Friedman.

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A photograph of a model from 2012’s “A Day in My Shoes” Grand Cayman exhibition.

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A model poses in an evening gown and fins.

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A model walks along a tree-lined path in red shoes for the worthy project. – Photo: Amy Martin-Friedman