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Clemson student uses embroidered bras to tell #MeToo stories

Courtesy of Geneva Hutchinson
What were you wearing?

From a distance, it looked like someone had strung their laundry between two trees in Trustee Park. But upon closer inspection, one would realize that it was more than that — a powerful art installation about sexual assault.
10 bras, each embroidered, were hanging on the line. The embroideries were all quotes commonly seen in sexual harassment and assault cases; it took about 40 hours to do for Geneva Hutchinson, a senior visual arts and communications major.
The bras originally started out as nothing more than a project for an intermediate sculpture class, given no limitations and only defined by the word “Boundary.” While Hutchinson’s initial idea was actually quite different, she eventually arrived at her final product, creating her clothesline of bras in less than four weeks.
Hutchinson used a diverse collection of bras, all found in various thrift stores.
“I liked that they were all different, coming from different women with different backgrounds,” Hutchinson said. “Maybe there was a story behind why the women were getting rid of their bras.”
She then embroidered quotes on the bras, a different quote for each bra, intentionally matching certain color thread to certain bras. The most moving part of the project, however, was the content of the quotes.
One bra read, “What was she wearing?”
Another bore the quote, “We loved each other.”
Yet another just said, “I told him no.”
By combining cute bras and fashionable embroidery with quotes that she hopes will give people an “oh wow” hard-hitting moment of realization, Hutchison did her best to catch people’s attention and send a message about sexual assault. The time and place was decided upon in order to catch people as they were walking between classes, dorms and dining halls.
The plan seemed to work. Many people noticed, took photos and put the project on social media.
“A few women came up and read the quotes and were very excited over the project,” Hutchinson said. Her professor, classmates and online viewers have also been very supportive.
Of course, the biggest supporter was Hutchinson herself. After about a year of creating art involving the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, she finds the process quite healing and nearly addictive.
“I use these projects as a way of telling my own story of being assaulted, other survivors’ stories and to bring awareness and shine light on the subject of sexual assault,” Hutchinson said.
In a time when the #MeToo movement is so popular and sexual assault is so widely discussed, Hutchinson’s project has extremely deep meanings, especially on a college campus.
Voted the safest college campus in the nation in 2016, Clemson often seems surrounded by the idea that nothing bad can ever happen here. Hutchinson clearly does not endorse such an idea.
“I think every college campus that I know of handles sexual assault poorly,” Hutchinson said. “Many of my friends have dealt with sexual assault and rape on campus and have been incredibly disappointed at how the college employees have reacted and supported them.”
Though the bras are no longer in Trustee Park, one can hope their message will linger on campus for a time to come and that they might bring some attention to things more often ignored.
“Ignoring the issue and not helping survivors is not going to help anyone in the long run,” Hutchinson said.

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