TTU's annual Clothesline Project displayed April 2The annual Clothesline Project at Tennessee Tech University is not a display of dirty laundry. It’s an artistic display of visual testimonies by survivors to bring awareness to the issues of violence and abuse.
This year’s theme is Hope and Healing Hang on the Clothesline.
Set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, in the Tech Pride Room of the Roaden University Center, the Clothesline Project encourages healing and awareness through the display of T-shirts created by campus and community survivors of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, incest, homophobic assault and child sexual abuse.
Hosted by the TTU Women’s Center, the ever-evolving event is free and open to the public. Blank shirts are provided at the display to offer survivors a possible outlet for healing, while the increasing display provides hope to other survivors and awareness to all viewers.
“Blank shirts will be provided at the display, but some people have to wait until they’ve mustered up the courage to create their shirt,” said Gretta Stanger, director of TTU’s Women’s Center. “Sometimes, shirts have come back to us two or more years after they were created.”
But not all participants are hesitant. One year, she said, a student made a shirt, then phoned her mother in another state to tell her about it. The student’s mother also wanted to make a shirt, Stanger said, and drove hundreds of miles the next day to be at the exhibit.
Diana Lalani of TTU’s Women’s Center said, “When an individual is ready to make a shirt and let go of the secret, she declares her independence from the shame, and she places the blame outside of herself in a physical way. Applaud these acts of bravery and healing by witnessing the Clothesline.”
The National Clothesline Project was founded in 1990 by a group of women in Massachusetts who wanted to address the issue of violence against women. Since then, the project has continued to expand, and TTU is now one of about 500 national and international annual displays.
“Although the national project has restricted shirt-making to females, we have never done so,” Stanger said. “Mothers and sons have made shirts together, and we also have shirts made by children in local support groups.”
The colors of the shirts represent different kinds of abuse and offer tribute to those who have not survived.
White, for example, represents women who have died as a result of violence. Yellow represents individuals who’ve been battered or assaulted. Red or pink is for survivors of rape or sexual assault; blue and green shirts are respectively for survivors of incest and sexual abuse. And purple represents violence based on sexual orientation.
“We are well aware that in order to change things, breaking the silence through this collection is only a beginning. We need to better understand the role that the social and cultural climate play in supporting violence toward women, children and less powerful individuals,” Stanger said. “I’m particularly pleased to have the new One in Four campus group join those that support this display. Genesis House personnel will also be in attendance this year as in the past.”
For more information about the display or about making a shirt, visit the TTU Women’s Center at Room 203 of Pennebaker Hall or call 931/372-3850.