Shoreline artist Margaret Hartley compassionate ‘pop-up’ protest art in LFP

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Pop-up art installation by Margaret Hartley

Text and photos by Luanne Brown

Shoreline artist Margaret Hartley installed a piece of protest art for the duration of the Sunday, September 1, 2019 protest at the corner of Ballinger Way and Bothell Way NE (SR 522). 

On a clothesline stretched between two trees, she hung baby clothes, interspersed with signs that said, “Kids need their families,” Keep families together,” “End abuse at the border,” “No more deaths.” 

“This is called a compassionate clothesline and this piece is meant to connect us to the refugee families and children who are being separated and detained for political reasons,” she said. “The point of this piece is to humanize this whole issue.”

In her work as a collage artist, the clothesline has become a metaphor for connecting ideas and tying the ‘everyday’ world of domestic tasks to larger scale, society-wide ideas and ideals that connect us all. 

In her own life the clothesline serves many purposes. “I am a mother who washed a lot of diapers and hung them on clothesline when we lived in New Zealand. 

"I use the clothesline a lot in the imagery of my work. I even string my collages on a clothesline,” she said.

To Hartley, “The clothesline is your home. It’s those domestic things we do that support our family and it’s the thing that is lacking for these refugees who aren’t allowed to wash or have clean clothes. It’s the disruption of simple everyday domestic tasks that we all share no matter where we come from.”

As a mother of four, Hartley says, “ When I look at my children’s little baby clothes, I just imagine how would I feel if I had my children taken away and I didn’t know where they were. That is an inhumane thing to do to families.” 

Shoreline artist Margaret Hartley
at the protest site in LFP

Hartley has been doing art since she was a child and used to work as as a cartoonist for newspapers. Currently, she teaches for Seattle Pacific but has also taught K-12. 

Her current classroom responsibilities involve helping teachers who will be using art in their classroom as a communication tool. She is also a docent at the Seattle Art Museum.

Hartley participated in the Lake Forest Park protest on August 25 and was inspired to do her “Compassionate Clothesline” based on the protest banner she prepared from a child’s dress for that event.

“The way to make this (separating refugee families and detaining children) to stop is for people to come out and show that this is not okay. 

"We need to be making a real loud noise and I don’t think we are,” Hartley said.


La Tercera Madre September 5, 2019 at 3:22 PM  

beautiful and powerful protest piece!!!

Rudy September 5, 2019 at 10:42 PM  

I just don't see anyone talking about children growing up in King County who are at risk of being permanently separated from their families. Not so powerful when it's about our own.

Anonymous,  September 6, 2019 at 6:57 AM  

Where were these people when the previous administration did the same thing with kids and family separations? Where were these people when hundreds of kids have suffered far worse in shootings and permanent family separation in Chicago over the past 12 months?

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