‘The Closet of 1000 People’: Student’s Independent Project Visualizes a Thousand


Colin Clark

NOT FOR SALE: Colin Clark’s 100 feet of clothing racks stretched from Little Hall to the Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology.

Joe Mussomeli, Contributing Writer

Over the past week, students may have noticed a long clothing rack of shirts occupying the pathway between Little Hall and Case  Geyer Library. Sitting through a few days of rain and shine, the installation was part of an independent project, “The Closet of One Thousand People,” created by Senior Colin Clark.

Clark, an architecture minor, conducted an independent study over the past semester under Professor of Art & Art History Dewitt Godfrey, who assigned him a prompt for his project.

“For the independent study course, the prompt was to make a composition of one thousand units of anything. And I was kind of thinking ‘what would be an interesting material to make 1,000 out of?’ So I came up with the idea of t-shirts,” Clark said. “However, the project wound up taking a lot more work than I anticipated. There were so many shirts that they had to get a forklift to fit all of them onto my truck.” 

Once Clark had his idea, he immediately got to work. Over the course of the spring semester, he gathered 1,000 t-shirts, previously owned by 1,000 people, and gathered over 100 feet of clothing racks. While he was collecting the shirts, he decided to choose a variety of different colors for the shirts, with the purpose of emphasizing the idea of individuality.

“I had an idea to make each shirt express a unique background, a unique experience of the person who used to own it,” said Clark. “There’s a lot of individuality and a commonness of everyone wanting to be a unique individual.”

Additionally, Clark said the t-shirt racks were meant to represent the outline of a human, further expressing the idea of humanity, individuality and the human experience. The 100 feet of racks roughly outlined the silhouette of the shoulders of a person. Throughout the past week, many students passed by the project and wondered what the installation was. Junior Adam Limoges was particularly intrigued by the project.

“I had no idea what it was at first,” Limoges explained. “I was just walking home towards Willow Path, and I saw some people flipping through the shirts, so I went down to see what it was. I thought it was a really interesting medium for storytelling. You really only get a snippet of their lives from the t-shirt, but you instantly begin to imagine who they are and what they like or what they were doing.”

Junior Sophie Tinley was also fascinated by Clark’s project.

“I originally thought it was a sale to raise money for a group on campus, but I was really impressed when I saw that they were donating all of the shirts after the exhibit was taken down,” Tinley said.

Now that his project has been completed, Clark intends on donating the shirts to a charity in the local area.

“I’m really happy the project was a success. I’m very thankful for all of the professors and students who have complimented me on it. My favorite part of the project was seeing people browse through the shirts, read the signs and just interact with the project in general,” Clark said.

Upon reflecting on his project, Clark encourages all Colgate students to take an independent study at some point in their Colgate experience.

“I would absolutely recommend taking an independent study course at Colgate. It really is a great opportunity to have an interdisciplinary focus on a passionate topic of your choice,” Clark explained. “I felt that I grew a lot as a person and student from this opportunity.”