Victims of sexual abuse and violence expressed themselves through art at the Clothesline Project, sponsored by Temple University’s Sexual Assault Counseling and Education program (SACE) on Thursday, Sept. 28, in Sullivan Hall. The event, usually held outdoors, took place inside after two previously scheduled dates were rained out.
The Clothesline project is a program that gives sexual abuse victims an outlet to express their feelings by designing T-shirts.
There are two main ideas behind the creation of the T-shirts, according to Michael Hanowitz, assistant SACE coordinator. The creation of the shirt can be very empowering and can serve as a message to others.
“The Clothesline Project itself is very visually striking,” Hanowitz said. “The other thing is that by making that shirt part of the permanent collection when we set up the shirts–and we have bunches of them around campus –people stop and read about the project.”
The Clothesline Project, a national program started in 1990 by the Cape Cod Women’s Agenda, is an opportunity for survivors of sexual assault and violence to represent their experiences through visual art.
“Expression is important,” said Psychology professor Brian Marx. “It’s one of the ideas about why therapy might be effective for people because people disclose their minds, they express their feelings. It’s almost like a confession in some way that they let go of kind of what’s inside, and that can be very powerful for people.”
Participants in the Clothesline Project choose a colored shirt that corresponds to what makes them a survivor: white for women who have died of violence, yellow/beige for battery or assault, red/pink/orange for rape or sexual assault, blue/green for incest or child abuse and purple/lavender for attacks based on sexual orientation.
Survivors of assault and violence are not the only people affected by displays of representational art. The nature of the expression has an impact on bystanders as well.
At the beginning of the semester, there was a miniature display of the current collection of T-shirts at Johnson and Hardwick Halls. Although only a small number of shirts were displayed, both students and staff showed great interest.
Last Thursday’s turnout was less than expected, but each viewer was still appreciated.
“To have even one person come out is a wonderful thing,” said Olivia Porpst, graduate assistant at SACE.
The t-shirts made on Sept. 28 will join the permanent collection and be displayed on Monday, Oct. 9, at the Bell Tower. The display will coincide with SACE’s “Pledge to End Interpersonal Violence.” A second Clothesline Project will be held in the spring semester.
SACE has been active for seven years. Its office is in the University Counseling Services on the lower level of Sullivan Hall.
The SACE staff is made up of two professional counselors, eight peer educators and three volunteers. The peer educators and volunteers take part in a 35-hour training program and commit themselves to three to seven hours of work per week. The educators are primarily responsible for the education, special events and interactive programs such as speaking to Greek organizations on campus about healthy relationships.
The two professional educators, coordinator Pamela Freeman and assistant coordinator Michael Hanowitz, handle intervention and counseling.