Your art on your sleeve

Each of the five colors represents a story, an experience, a life-changing event. The messages vary in emotions, but are centered around one common theme.

The Clothesline Project was started in Massachusetts during the summer of 1990, with a goal to consciously develop a program to educate, break the silence and bear witness to one issue  — violence against women.

In honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, several organizations at UW-Eau Claire are sponsoring a campus Clothesline Project.

Shirts are decorated in honor of both survivors and victims of sexual violence. According to the project’s website, the concept of creating awareness using t-shirts on a clothesline came from the idea that doing laundry was typically considered women’s work.

Founders of the Clothesline Project, according to their website, believe participating in the decoration of a t-shirt provides a powerful step toward helping a survivor break the silence surrounding her experience of sexual assault.

Abby Vercauteren, the women’s issues program coordination for the Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center, said she expects about 100 shirts to be decorated. She said she believes sexual assault and rape are two of the most important issues facing women today.

“It’s important to raise awareness that sexual assault is an issue, and in fact, its a really huge issue,” she said. “It does happen to people we know. Its far different when you see statistics … versus when you can put that with a face or an actual experience — which would be represented through the shirts.”

According to its website, The Clothesline Project is an opportunity for not only victims and survivors of sexual assault, but also their loved ones, to express their feelings about what happened through decorating a shirt.

Red shirts represent female survivors, and yellow represent male survivors of sexual assault. Green shirts honor children who experienced sexual assault and incest, while lavender represents individuals who were harassed or assaulted due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. White t-shirts honor someone who died due to or during an assault.

OneInFourUSA.org reported that sexual assault is especially prevalent among college-age women. One in six women will be assaulted in their lifetime, according to the website, and that number jumps to one in four on college campuses.

The shirts will be on display on the campus mall April 18 and 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Individuals wishing to decorate a t-shirt for the Clothesline Project can in Bridgman Hall lobby tonight from 6 to 8 p.m.

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