The Women’s Coalition of St. Croix held a Clothesline Project Shirt-Making Workshop on Thursday, November 14th at 5:30 p.m. at our office/crisis center in Christiansted, 7 East Street.
The Clothesline Project is a visual display that bears witness to violence against women. Each shirt is decorated to represent a particular woman’s experience, by the survivor herself or by someone who cares about her.
During the presentation, survivors and/or their supporters decorated a shirt for our Clothesline. All supplies will be provided, but participants should feel free to bring their own shirts if they wish.
What is The Clothesline Project?
The Women’s Coalition has participated in The Clothesline Project since 1994. The Clothesline Project is a visual display that bears witness to violence against someone. During the display, a clothesline is hung with shirts. Each shirt is decorated to represent at particular women’s experience, by the survivor herself or by someone who cares about her. Our clothesline is displayed publicly at The Women Race, Take Back the Night March, WCSC Annual Meeting and at Advocate Training.
In addition to our public displays, the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix plans an evening each year to display The Clothesline and for active participation. At each display, shirts and materials will be available for people who wish to design a shirt at the time.
The Clothesline Project provides an opportunity for women to break the silence and bear witness to their personal experience of violence, and celebrate their transformation from victim to survivor in a powerful statement of solidarity.
What goes on the Clothesline?
Each t-shirt or garment on The Clothesline is decorated by a woman survivor of violence to represent her experiences and express her feelings. Shirts can also be made to remember a woman who has been murdered. Each shirt tells an individual woman’s story. When displayed together, they are a powerful testimony about the war being waged against women.
The Clothesline Project is about direct, personal violence against women and shirts are color-coded for different types of violence. We ask women to send in shirts, blouses or tee shirts of durable material preferably with the following color code:
- White – for women who have died of violence;
- Yellow or beige – for women who have been battered or assaulted
- Red, pink, or orange – for women who have been raped or sexually assaulted
- Blue or green – for women who are survivors of incest or child sexual abuse
- Purple or lavender – for women attacked because of their sexual orientation.
You need not be an artist to create a moving, personal tribute. Whether you choose to simply paint or sew elaborate embroidery is up to you–any remembrance is appropriate. These colors are not mandatory if a different color has special significance.
Creating a shirt
One of the beauties of this project is its simplicity. Survivors need not be artists to create a moving personal tribute. Whether they choose to use paint, magic markers or elaborate embroidery to create their shirt is up to them. The power is in the personal. We would like each shirt to reflect the woman’s personal experience. You may include a name, date and memorabilia such as tools of a trade or symbols of interest. Some suggestions for enduring durability:
- use a natural fabric
- sew rather than using glue
- photocopy photographs onto iron-ons.
- use acrylic or textile pain, color-fast dye or indelible ink
For women killed
You may want to submit a shirt that belonged to her. Please show on the shirt the woman’s name, date of birth and death and hometown. When the shirt is complete you may wish to take the time to write a description of the person you have memorialized.
Please include information you wish to share about her death. Tell us what this person meant to you and how you think she should be remembered. Enclose a photograph of the person if you have one you are willing to part with. We cannot be responsible for returning photographs or mementos.
Because making a shirt is part of a healing process of violence, shirts should be submitted by the survivor. If not possible, a shirt for a survivor should be submitted with her written permission. We ask that you respect their anonymity by not using their name. Last name or hometown are not required. We would appreciate whatever information you or she would like to share. We will respect all requests for confidentiality.
Names of perpetrator
Naming the perpetrator is an important part of the healing process. But, for legal reasons, we cannot display shirts with full names of the perpetrators. We ask that shirt makers use first names or initials if they wish to name their violator.
How it started
The Clothesline Project began in 1990 when members of the Cape Cod Women’s Agenda hung a clothesline across the village green in Hyannis, Massachusetts with 31 shirts designed by survivors of assault, rape and incest. Women viewing the clothesline came forward to create shirts of their own and the line just kept growing.
Since that first display The Clothesline Project has grown to 300+ local Clothesline Projects nationally and internationally, with an estimated 35,000 shirts. The Clothesline Project has become a distinctive resource for healing from violence and creating social change. Clotheslines have been displayed at schools, universities, State Houses, shopping malls, churches, and women’s events. The first National Display took place April 8-9, 1995 in Washington D.C. in conjunction with NOW’s Rally For Women’s Lives.
Similar to the AIDS quilt, The Clothesline Project puts a human face on the statistics of violence against women. The Clothesline Project increases awareness of the impact of violence against women, celebrates a woman’s strength to survive, and provides an avenue for her to courageously break the silence. Families and friends of women who have died as a result of violence can make a shirt to express their deep loss.
For more information contact:
Women’s Coalition of St. Croix: (340) 773-9272
National Network Office of The Clothesline Project: (508) 896-1875