Clothesline Project shows reality of violence and abuse

Twice each year, the Equity in Education Center presents the Clothesline Project, a traveling display of shirts that stands as a poignant witness of violence in our local communities.

The clothesline will be on display in the Grande Ballroom, located in the Sorenson Student Center, next week during Mar. 31 and April 1 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Members of the local chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse, which highly endorses the project, will hold a special presentation the final day in the Courtyard at 6 p.m.

Displayed are shirts of various sizes and colors symbolizing survivors’ experiences. The shirts are crafted using a variety of media to facilitate expression. The colors of the shirts each represent a type of violence experienced by the survivor/victim, but these colors only serve as a general guide. The creators may choose whatever color they feel most represents their abuse. Emotions expressed on the shirts are powerful and sometimes disturbing. Shirts with messages of hope and love are found among the uncensored and descriptive expressions of pain, loss and hatred.

Various sounds in the background represent how often a violent act is committed against women. A whistle is blown every minute because, according to reports, a woman is raped every minute. Other sounds indicate the occurrence of different violent acts.

Along its travels, the clothesline can be booked for display. People have the ability to hold their own clothesline “project,” guided through steps listed on the project’s website.

The idea for the project originated in 1990 when the Cape Cod Women’s Defense Agenda of Massachusetts publicized statistics that showed that during the Vietnam War, the number of servicemen killed in action and the number of women killed by men who supposedly loved them were alarmingly close.
The Clothesline Project was then established to give a voice to those who have been silenced.

The project also came about through inspiration brought by the power of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Laundry has often been considered women’s work, and from this came the idea of a clothesline. Long ago, and to this day, women have often exchange information on a clothesline while hanging their clothes out to dry.

Over the span of nearly two decades, the project has become a means of healing for thousands of survivors, their family and friends. With clothesline projects carried out in many countries, voices of diversity unite as a source of support for those facing and surviving abuse.

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