Painfully Stylish

Painfully Stylish

Shoe Sculptures by May Y. Cheung Hoffman at FeeLit

What Is Torture?

Torture takes many different forms, sometimes dramatic or theatrical, but often unremarkable and nearly invisible in its cloak of “normalcy”.  The tools and technologies most commonly associated with torture are hardware, such as nails, chains, hooks and screws that can inflict excruciating pain upon the human body.   Even common household tools and utensils used for chores like cooking, sewing, decorating or knitting, while seemingly innocuous to many, can quietly torture those who despise domestic duties.

Stilettos may be beautiful objects, often sexy and eye-catching from a distance.  The pain they inflict can be quite insidious.  High-heeled shoes hurt, yet women buy them for their look, not for their feel.  To understand how truly painful a shoe can be, one needs to look beyond the decorative accoutrements; the metal studs, buckles, bows and multiple straps.  These accessories can make shoes more attractive, but they also distract us from seeing the pain they can inflict.

As modern day women, we experience many forms of pain in our lives. Why add to our own suffering by designing and wearing uncomfortable shoes? We are not just bystanders in the fashion industry, we are trendsetters. My goal is to challenge women to recreate and redefine footwear styles to reflect style and comfort.

Why shoes?

As an artist, choosing the ideal medium to convey my message is critical.  I use shoes as the canvas for my artwork because they are universally recognized objects.  As a fashion accessory, they can speak volumes about a woman’s sense of style, the type of work she does for a living and her current lifestyle. As a young adult, I worked in retail sales for many years, selling clothing and shoes to pay for my university tuition.  For many hours at a time, I stood in painful, but attractive, high-heeled shoes that pinched, poked, squeezed and tortured my feet.  My sculptures are a testament to the pain and suffering I endured to pursue my education.  To truly understand a woman’s strength and determination, one must not only walk in her shoes, but stand in them as well.

While some shoes cause immediate, intense pain, others cause collective damage over time.  Regardless of how attractive a shoe may appear, underneath its decorous façade is the potential for unbearable pain when worn for prolonged periods of time.  Torture in any form is never pretty, but in modern society, women’s footwear often proves the adage that one must suffer for beauty.

About The Artist

May received her B.A. in Sociology from University of California, San Diego and her M.A. in Sociology from San Diego State University.

When she is not creating painfully stylish shoe sculptures, she works in Human Resources.

These shoe sculptures are inspired by my great-grandmother.  Like many women in ancient China, she was forced to bind her feet.  Foot binding was a traditional method of controlling a woman’s destiny, both literally and symbolically.  A woman with bound feet was unlikely to leave her husband or to escape his beatings.  On a deeper level, this traumatic mutilation of her body inscribed her subservient position.”

Markalan - Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Markalan moved to Pacific Beach in 1994. During his first four years in San Diego, he worked as a photographer for the United States Navy. Over the past decade, he's been behind the bar or turntables in many of San Diego's nightclubs, and venues. He's shared his musical selections with Southern & Baja California, and the Mayan Riviera. During these years, he could be found exchanging his time for vinyl at Groove Records and Siesta Records. 

He often worked for trade, to support his vinyl addiction. He currently owns over 8,000 records. "Listening to my father's albums is when it all began. Flipping through the stacks, cleaning off the LP, placing the needle on the record, reading the lyrics, studying the artwork, and enjoying the rich analog sound. Sure, there are occasional pops & you might have to clean the record. You actually have to flip the record at the end of the side. It's not a play list or program on shuffle. You are present, involved, and engaged in the listening process. 
Please Keep Vinyl Alive & Support Local Artists!" 

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