Other Articles

Taking Back the Clothesline: fighting corporate claims on a grassroots movement

Citation: Source: Off Our Backs , nov-dec 2005, Vol. 35, No. 11/12 (nov-dec 2005), pp. 13-17

by Susan Cumings| Nov-Dec 2005

Excerpt from the article…

In the fall of 2004, five shopping malls and one hospital in the state of Georgia were visited by something called “the Verizon Clothesline Project”, promotional material, sent an advance to potential” partners” (and aim primarily at trying to line up venues for display) promised that this “Verizon Clothesline Project” was”self-explanatory” and took up very little space. To those of us familiar with the real clothesline project. The idea that “our” clothesline could be branded was a shock.

First National Clothesline Display. Women Lawyers Journal

Citation: Foley, S. (1995). First National Clothesline Display. Women Lawyers Journal. 81(3), 18-19..

by Sally Lee Foley| June 1995

Excerpt from the article…

The Clothesline Project is a public display of thousands of hand decorated T-shirts. They tell the stories of real peoples lives and comment on the violence directed against women. Each T-shirt is designed by either a survivor of violence, or someone who knew an individual hurt by violence; her story is expressed on a T-shirt, depicting a particular experience.

On April 8 and ninth, some 250 Clothesline Projects from the United States and abroad were represented in Washington DC display of over 6000 shirts hung at the Washington Monument end of the Mall.

T-Shirt Designs Spell Heartfelt Messages

Citation: Gardner, Marilyn (1992). T-Shirt designs spell heartfelt messages, The Christian Science Monitor

by Marilyn Gardner| October 13, 1992

Excerpt from the article…

FROM a distance, the colorful T-shirts hanging on Rachel Carey-Harper’s clothesline could be just another load of laundry flapping in the October breeze. But step closer, and the shirts reveal heartfelt messages that remain unconventional even by today’s anything-goes standards of T-shirt design….
It was founded by Ms. Carey-Harper, a mural artist who says she likes to think in terms of “large, visual statements.” From its simple beginnings, the project has spread to 40 communities, stretching from California to Cape Cod and Alaska to Florida.

To underscore that possibility of change, Carey-Harper selected two dozen T-shirts offering “positive messages of love and support” for her second-anniversary display in Hyannis, Mass., yesterday. “For me,” she says, “perhaps the most important purpose is to connect women, line to line, shirt to shirt, heart to heart.”Even so, she and other organizers emphasize that the shirts pinned to those clotheslines must do more than connect women. “Most of the work [to eliminate domestic violence] really needs to be done with men, but they’re not motivated,” observes Ed Harper, Carey-Harper’s husband.

From: Off Our Backs, April 1991, Vol. 21, No. 4 (April 1991), p. 7 (JSTOR)

By Chris Lafuente | April 1991

(By subscription) With access, the full article is here …

Excerpt from the article…

“fear/ darkness falls/ don’t come too close/ under these covers of deceit/ innocence no more/ trusting that warmness can be found/ under these covers no more/ cold cold dying”
These words appeared on a blue shirt on the clothesline hung to bear witness to violence against women. The Clothesline Project visited Washington D.C. on March 12th to lobby support for The Violence Against Women Act of 1991. The legislation, introduced by Sen Joseph R. Biden (D. Delaware), allocates funds to
improve survivor support programs, law enforcement, and prosecution of perpetrators. Legally, it declares rape as a bias or hate crime. This allows a survivor of domestic violence to sue for damages under existing civil rights laws….

Rachel Carey-Harper of Cape Cod Women’s Agenda said “the clothesline and the tears come up together” and added that both women and men who come to view the clothesline are deeply moved by the dramatic presence of the Clothesline. The idea of a clothesline is effective because it not only invites all women to participate in the familiar act of hanging clothes, but also reclaims a domestic medium as a statement of power.

From: Isis International, a feminist advocacy organization.

by Lora Bex Lempert and Synnov Skorger| April 28, 2022

The full article is here…


“These messages and hundreds of other messages were written, and drawn on the ‘canvas’ of ordinary t-shirts and hung on South Africa’s inaugural Clothesline on 26 November 2001 on Robben Island, the site of Nelson Mandela’s long imprisonment and now a national historical site and museum.

The Clothesline Project is a public display of individually created t-shirts that illustrate, with words, colours or symbols, women’s personal stories of their experiences of violence (Foley 1995). Each T-shirt honours, respects, and recognises one woman’s courage in facing experience(s) of violence—rape, incest, abuse, harassment, murder, intimidation, and/or torture—in a medium that provides public exposure while guaranteeing distance and safety….

The South Africa Clothesline debut on Robben Island provided the backdrop for the launch of the Justice for Women campaign. Sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, and the National Network on Violence Against Women, the Justice for Women campaign is a public appeal to President Mbeki for the pardon or sentence reduction of abused women who have killed their husbands. Following the Justice for Women launch, the Clothesline also marked multiple events in the 16 Days of Activism, an annual international event (25 November-10 December) intended to create a worldwide movement that raises awareness of gender-based violence as a human rights issue and calls for the elimination of such violence.”

From: Digitized version of article from The New York Times’ print archive

By Roberta Hershenson | Nov. 26, 1995

(By subscription) The full article is here …

Excerpt from the article…

THE message on the T-shirt seemed to scream. “POW,” it said in purple letters. “I won’t say he never gave me anything.”

Another shirt pinned to a gallery clothesline at Purchase College here was covered with imprints of a hand. “Stop touching my innocence.” Beneath the message, the word “Pain” appeared with an X drawn through it.

Pain was palpable in the gallery, said one student, as he moved slowly through the exhibition of painted T-shirts, displayed recently in observance of Rape Awareness Week.

The shirts were part of the nationwide Clothesline Project, a response to violence against women, which is being coordinated in the county by Victims Assistance Services in Elmsford.

What many visitors to the show did not know, however — because the T-shirts were anonymous — was that nearly one-third of the raw, angry and often poignant messages embellished with ragged, bleeding hearts and cascading teardrops, were painted by current Purchase students.

From: USA Today

By Tony Gonzalez The Tennessean | Nov. 14, 2013

The full article is here …

Excerpt from the article…

“The group unveiled “The Clothesline Project,” in which white T-shirts adorned with written, sometimes explicit excerpts from the stories of Vanderbilt students and graduates affected by sexual assault were hung on a line….
Members of the student group took turns reading the shirts and hanging them on lines in the student center. The stories recounted abuses in homes and schools, coercion in dating and callous things said to survivors. Most were signed anonymously. Some included first names.

From: Universitas: Notre Dame Of Maryland University Winter 2015

By Marianne Amoss ’04| April 28, 2022

The full article is here (page 13 – 14)…

Excerpt from the article…

The longest continuously running service-learning course in the School (and perhaps the institution) is Introduction to Women’s Studies, offered every year in the spring. Under the direction of associate professor of history Susan Barber, Ph.D. ’84, students learn about violence against women and women’s experiences in prison—and then work with inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women to create T-shirts for the Clothesline Project, which bears witness to experiences of domestic violence. Students help hang the shirts on Doyle Lawn and organize events relating to domestic violence awareness. “This kind of project fits perfectly with our mission and with the SSND ministry—to improve the lot of women and girls that are in some kind of distress,” Dr. Barber says. “The students learn great compassion through this experience. They learn to let go of stereotypes, so that they’re not afraid because they know that someone has been in a prison.”

From: The Pantagraph, 205 N. Main St. Bloomington, IL 61701 

By Kelsey Watznauer April 28, 2022

The full article is here (page 13 – 14)…

Excerpt from the article…

“BLOOMINGTON — T-shirts scrawled with messages heavy with trauma, grim data and signs of healing and encouragement hang across the rotunda of the McLean County Museum of History.

Survivors and advocates have drawn, written and painted on these shirts as a local iteration of the Clothesline Project to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”

“It’s an expression,” said Anne Taylor, director of YWCA McLean County Stepping Stones, which supports survivors and offers resources including counseling. “What’s amazing about it is sometimes sexual assault kind of comes up in data, it comes up in statistics, and while those statistics are important, each person’s story is so important and so unique. This is a way for each person to have that unique voice.”

Hannah Johnson, director of youth and family education at the McLean County museum, said her team has partnered with Stephanie Bridges, prevention educator at Stepping Stones, for years to bring the Clothesline Project into this space during April to honor the women who created the collection.

Having helped to coordinate over the years, Taylor said, “It becomes more significant over time when you’re really seeing those expressions throughout time and the differences but the similarities, too, of realizing that this is still such an issue we face.”

From: An Advocacy Teaching Kit For Working With Women Coping With Substance Abuse, Interpersonal Violence And Trauma

By Patricia J. Bland, And Debi Edmund|2008

The full PDF is here (Clothesline references page 2 and 4)

Excerpt from the PDF…

Social change or service to others?
Service to others is one way to achieve social change. Working for social change can be a way to serve others. When people in 12-Step groups take a meeting to a jail or hospital, they serve others. They also create social change by making recovery available to more people. When abuse survivors make a T-shirt for the Clothesline Project, they help change public attitudes about violence. This serves other victims of violence. …
The Clothesline Project
The Clothesline Project lets victims and survivors of violence speak out by telling their
stories on T-shirts.8 Women who experience violence often keep their stories personal and private. Some survivors find that making a shirt helps them break the silence about their abuse. This allows them to begin or complete the healing process.
The project began in Massachusetts in 1990 with 31 shirts. It was a way to “air society’s dirty laundry.” Since then, the Clothesline has gathered “laundry” from women all over the world. T-shirts have come from universities, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers and substance abuse treatment centers.
More than a half million shirts now exist. If brought together, they would fill a clothesline at least 13 miles long. The shirts have appeared at hundreds of events that educate the public about violence against women.

From: The Crossover: The Intersection among News, Arts, and Culture at Champlain College

by April 28, 2022

The full article is here…


Marked-up shirts strung on clotheslines in the Fireside Lounge on April 18th, displaying Champlain students’ powerful messages about their experiences with sexual abuse.

This movement is known as The Clothesline Project, which was started by Rachel Carey-Harper in Cape Cod in 1990 and has since empowered victims on an international scale. Protests began due to a staggering number of women facing domestic violence, specifically during the Vietnam War. The use of clotheslines is intended to turn the stereotype of the ideal housewife over its head, and the method of drawing on shirts was inspired by the AIDS quilt.

Criminal Justice major Angel Gallien (‘22) has organized her own version of the Clothesline Project at Champlain. As someone with a background in helping victims of abuse and has survived sexual assault, she is determined to continue helping and leading others to paths of healing and sex education.

From: Technician: Student newspaper of NC State University, Raleigh, NC

by Emily Hench, Correspondent | Apr 16, 2018

The full article is here…


“Throughout the month of April, students may have noticed a line of t-shirts hanging up inside of Talley Student Union, as well as several other places across campus. These are in no way ordinary shirts. In fact, the apparel on display is part of a larger event better known as The Clothesline Project….
“It’s a form of expressive art,” said Janine Kossen, Associate Director of NC State’s Women’s Center. “It gives a way for survivors to have an outlet where they can write whatever they want in whatever way they feel is the best expression of them. I think the visual display of having t-shirts is just a recognition of how pervasive this is, and how different every individual’s experience is.”