Friday, April 3, 2009

CCV April Gallery Installation: The Clothesline Project

In observance of Sexual Violence Awareness Month in April, CCV is exhibiting a local version of the Clothesline Project in collaboration with the Women's Rape Crisis Center (WRCC) in our hallway gallery at 119 Pearl Street. For more information, please stop by the gallery and read the following guest post from Karen M. Geiger, curator for the CCV Burlington galleries...

“According to the Men's Rape Prevention Project in Washington DC, 58,000 soldiers died in the Vietnam War. During that same period of time, 51,000 women were killed mostly by men who supposedly loved them. In the summer of 1990, that statistic became the catalyst for a coalition of women's groups on Cape Cod, Massachusetts to consciously develop a program that would educate, break the silence and bear witness to one issue - violence against women.”

~From the Clothesline Project website

What is The Clothesline Project? - a statement, a tool for education, a way of telling stories, speaking out, taking back control, or art? In reality it is all of the above. A nation-wide art project, the shirts tell the stories of Vermonters who have been touched by sexual violence. The stories may be from victims or from their friends, lovers, or family members. Regardless of who is doing the telling, or what words and images are used, the stories are the tangible reminders of how sexual violence affects our lives.

When the Women’s Rape Crisis Center (WRCC) contacted the college to ask if they could show the project in our gallery my first reaction was, of course! These galleries are, after all, designed not only to expose people to art but to educate, as well. April being Sexual Violence Awareness Month was the perfect opportunity to bring this topic to light. CCV seemed like a logical place to bring these two ideas together.

I know personally how sexual violence can change a person’s life and what it can do to the victims, their friends, family, and loved ones. It is a long and bitter road that eventually leads back to a place of healing and peace. For some, this show will do what it is designed to - offer a way of exploring what it means to be a victim and survivor of sexual violence. For others, this may be a painful exhibition to view.

I ask that you read the shirts and think about the individuals who created them and what they are trying to say. Discuss the show in your classes; think about it at home, or with friends and family. If you have questions, concerns, or just need to talk - find someone. Our staff members and advisors are happy to help or listen. My door is always open, and I’m here to listen. The WRCC has left information in the lobby area if you need it.

The act of creating can be transformative and healing, and this project is just one example of the power art can hold.

~Karen M. Geiger
Curator, Burlington Galleries

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