‘This Project Celebrates and Empowers Women in this Community’

Upcoming exhibit to feature survivors of gender-based violence

Heather Doughty by Heather Doughty Photography.

An upcoming portrait project aims to put into focus the resilience and strength of women who have experienced female gender-based violence.

Heather Doughty, founder/creator and photographer of INSPIRE: The Women’s Portrait Project, invites female-identified survivors of gender-based violence to collaborate on a personal journey and photographic exploration of resilience and healing.

Through this SPARK Photo Festival Exhibition, in collaboration with Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, the initiative aims to bring community awareness to the issue of gender-based violence, and the strength and courage of survivors.

“This project celebrates and empowers women in this community while providing a safe platform to share their stories and open positive communication,” Heather tells Electric City Magazine.

“I would hope that this exhibition not only raises awareness to a new level in this community, but it gives a stronger and more visible voice to the need to end gender-based violence — that it catapults community action into developing long-term solutions.”

“I was completely naive about the scope of female gender-based violence until I actually met three INSPIRE nominees who work in these areas. I became passionate about raising community awareness of this but I also wanted to celebrate the resilience and strength of the women who have experienced female gender-based violence.

“I also firmly believe that by sharing their stories it will not only raise awareness, but perhaps encourage other women to come forward.”

The SPARK Photo Festival Exhibition runs from April to June 2020 at Venture North.

The portrait project does not have to include faces or full body, the participants can interpret this project in a way they find empowering.

To those considering participating, Heather says all identities will be protected. For instance, the photo could be of just the survivor’s hands, feet or a back.

“But sharing that photo, sharing your story, it could give another woman the strength and the courage to ask for help to escape from a horrible situation,” Heather notes. “You can help to change community and you can help to make this world a safer place.”

Heather says the project will raise awareness of the issue and awareness brings change.

“I recently had a conversation with another human about how did it become normalized that almost all women at some time have experienced some form of gender-based violence. That needs to change.”

Heather says ultimately the best thing that could happen from the exhibition would be an end to gender-based violence.

“I would hope that this exhibition not only raises awareness to a new level in this community, but it gives a stronger and more visible voice to the need to end gender-based violence — that it catapults community action into developing long-term solutions,” Heather says.

“And for the survivors, I hope that they gain a new level of pride, of empowerment and that they understand what a positive catalyst they are being for change and that they celebrate their own resilience and strength.”

Survivors may self-nominate to info@inspirethewomensportraitproject.com with the title: SPARK Exhibit.

Survivors will have the choice for publication of their photo and story: 1) Exhibition, website and exhibition catalogue or 2) Exhibition, website, exhibition catalogue and social media (Facebook and Instagram).

There is no cost to take part. Participants will receive an exhibition catalogue to celebrate.

Portraits and biography stories (300 words) will be shared in February. A candlelight vigil will be held immediately before the exhibition to launch the event.

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