This archived article was written by: McKenzie Hosenfield
When Darrin Brandt, USU Eastern director of counseling, attended college at Utah Valley University, he remembers an exhibit that had a strong emotional effect on him that he will never forget. This exhibit, called The Clothesline Project, is a visual display that bears witness to the violence against women.
During this public display, a clothesline is hung with shirts. Each shirt represents a woman’s experience with violence. Clothesline Projects remind people of the real meaning of violence statistics that are often ignored. Years later, he is bringing this project to USU Eastern to give students the opportunity to have an impacting experience similar to one he had.
The Clothesline Project began in Hyannis, Mass. When members of Cape Cod’s Women’s Defense Agenda learned that during the same time 58,000 soldiers were killed in the Vietnam War, 51,000 U.S. women were killed by the men who claimed to love them. The first exhibit displayed only 31 shirts and had little encouragement from the community. Twenty-three years later, The Clothesline Project is now a well-known support group for victims of violence toward women and has projects in 41 states and five countries.
Brandt invites all members of the community to be involved in The Clothesline Project by designing a shirt representing a particular woman’s experience, by the survivor herself or by someone in her honor.
On April 8-12 in the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center, all supplies including shirts, markers and paints will be available to anyone who is interested in decorating a shirt for this cause. This event will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room and is free of charge.
The symbolic shirts will be displayed to the public in the grassy area in front of the Reeves Building on April 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 17 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and April 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you were unable to attend these pre-designing shirt days, please note that you have the opportunity to decorate a shirt at these times, as well. The exhibit will be moved into the multipurpose room in the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center if the weather is less than favorable. Admission is free and community members of all ages are invited to come and show their support. Therapists will be present during the entirety of this display for emotional help.
Brandt’s hope is that the message of The Clothesline Project will be spread throughout the community. He says, “We must break the silence. Violence against women is real. If we don’t know what it is going on, nothing will happen. There are people experiencing terrible violence in their lives, and we need to be there with them. Give this a chance and experience it.”