Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Clothesline Project

When thinking of Conscious Art, The Clothesline Project is probably in my Top 5. This art project started in 1990 with women expressing their emotions regarding violence against women. The shirts are hung on a clothesline in public to give voice and raise consciousness regarding this problem. The shirts are different colors, depending on the type of violence. For example, a blue shirt on the clothesline would represent a woman who is a survivor of incest or sexual abuse, a yellow t-shirt represents a woman who has been assaulted or battered, and white represents a woman who has died because of violence, etc.  This project has grown to a national level and any community can begin a clothesline project and start raising awareness and fostering healing in their community. I like this project because of its message, availability to the public (space-wise, money-wise, and concept-wise), and opportunity to offer a voice and healing to those affected by injustice and violence.  It's simple and affordable, but powerful.

I really liked this idea so I adapted it for an art project with my 8th graders last year. They created shirts to show how violence has affected their lives. We had red to represent sexual violence, orange for gang violence, green for personal violence (self-mutilation, suicidal ideation, etc), yellow for cultural violence (violence in the media, video games, etc), grey for emotional violence (i.e. bullying, intimidation), and black for students who knew someone who had died due to violence. Many of my students were affected by several types of violence, but chose one area to reflect on and speak up about. The t-shirts were hung on hangers on a "clothesline" in the cafeteria, where their voice could be heard and consciousness raised. 

Before coming to Chicago for my Masters in Social Work, I considered a masters in Art Therapy. I love that I am able to combine my passion for social justice issues with art and healing. I think there is endless potential...and hopefully this blog will help me look into those possibilities even more!

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