This week, the expert input comes from over 900 shirts. The Clothesline Project, which displays T-shirts made by and in honor of victims of violence and abuse, was displayed at UVU last week. While the shirts do display horrific amounts of pain, they also bear witness to the powerful effects of healing.
“A lot of times when people have experienced violence or [been] abused, they’ve been silenced,” says Jennie Briggs, director of UVU’s Equity Center. “When they come here, they feel like they can say whatever they want to say. It is a healing for them.”
The use of art for healing purposes has been documented in scientific journals. Studies show that adding the use of art in treatment of victims of violence facilitates healing more than talk therapy alone. This effect can easily be seen through the messages on the shirts.
“When you … journal or when you express yourself through art, there are connections that happen in your brain that allow for healing … [and] for self-understanding,” Briggs theorizes. She says that she has seen firsthand the power that creative expression has. “I’ve seen people who make the most beautiful shirts and they’ve been able to really express what they’re feeling and not have to worry about being [judged] and becoming more self-aware.”
In addition to having a healing effect on the individual, it can also empower the community to change and become more aware. Of the individuals that creates the shirts, Briggs says, “By them having the courage to do a T-shirt like that, the rest of us can come and read them and become aware of the epidemic of violence in our own community.”
Anyone who wishes to give a T-shirt they have made to the project can drop it off to Briggs in LC 303 at any point during the year.
“I saw someone reading my shirt, and I was, like, ‘Someone knows,’ ” one participant said. “I thought, ‘Someone might finally believe me.’ “