Nina Leibman and the Clothesline Project

By Cassidy, Marsha | Journal of Film and Video, Fall 1999 | Go to article overview

Nina Leibman and the Clothesline Project


Cassidy, Marsha, Journal of Film and Video


I learned of Nina Leibman's death in the midst of reading her book Living Room Lectures. The abrupt recognition that her life had come to an unjust end-and that her two young children had been left motherless-- shocked and disgusted me, as it did many others. The 1996 UFVA panel organized in her honor offered the opportunity not only to participate in a celebration of her scholarship and life contributions but also the chance to collaborate on the creation of a T shirt in her memory for the Clothesline Project.

Modeled after the AIDS Quilt, the Clothesline Project memorializes women who have been victimized by violence. Each shirt hanging on the clothesline commemorates a woman who has endured abuse: blue or green shirts remember survivors of child sexual abuse or incest; red or pink shirts chronicle rape or sexual assault victims; yellow or beige shirts memorialize survivors of battery; purple shirts recognize women abused because of their sexual orientation. Nina Leibman's shirt is white, signifying a murdered woman.

Those who attended the UFVA panel were asked to contribute words and images on a fabric swatch that would later be stitched onto the front and back of a white shirt, Many colleagues warmly acknowledged the permanence of Nina's influence: "Your loving spirit lives now in us" (Charlie). "We'll always remember you" (Wayne Munson). "In memory of my friend Nina. Knowing you has enriched my life" (Bill Huie). "Goodbye my friend. You will live on-in your children, in your work, and in the hearts of all whose lives you touched" (Suzanne Regan).

Others, angry and indignant, called for political action. …

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