To Channel Her Frustration, One Woman Started Embroidering Donald Trump’s Most Outrageous Quotes. She Inspired an Army of Needleworkers
Diana Weymar wants to collect 2,020 hand-stitched Donald Trump quotes by 2020.
“Such a nasty woman.” “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters.” “Covfefe.” President Donald Trump’s quotes—often incendiary, sometimes nonsensical, but almost invariably memorable (or meme-able)—have become an indelible part of of the American landscape, driving the 24-hour news cycle and becoming embedded in our collective conscious.
Now, they have also been immortalized in needlework by hundreds of artists. Diana Weymar’s “Tiny Pricks Project,” a community-based, constantly-growing Trump textile protest immortalizing the president’s words in stitching, is now on view in New York.
The Tiny Pricks Project began as a one-off artwork, with Weymar hastily stitching “I am a very stable genius,” on an old piece of embroidery made by her grandmother, after Trump issued the bizarre declaration in January 2018. She then decided it would be a worthwhile exercise to continue documenting the president’s more outlandish statements on antique textiles.
“For me, the stitching was cathartic, and I was interested in creating a record,” Weymar told artnet News at the exhibition opening. “When I saw Trump’s words in thread on a personal textile, it was different than reading his Twitter account.”
What she didn’t expect is how quickly the project would grow. Weymar soon found that she was stitching one or two quotes a day, unable to keep up with everything the president was saying. Friends offered to help, and then strangers on Instagram, the project picking up steam as it spread on social media among the needlework community.
It was through Instagram that Weymar connected with Rachelle Hruska MacPherson, founder of the Lingua Franca boutique in the West Village, which is hosting the show. The activist brand, which sells cashmere sweaters featuring hand-stitched slogans, grew out of the sewing Hruska MacPherson began doing as a way to combat postpartum anxiety and depression. At first, her designs focused on witty hip hop references.
“I never thought I would become a resistance person,” Hruska MacPherson admitted. “But when Trump passed the travel ban, we had three Iranian seamstresses working for us. I walked into the office, and they were all crying. It was the first time in my privileged life that politics had really affected me personally.”
That day, Lingua Franca made its first political sweater, adapting its “I Miss Biggie” design to read “I Miss Barack.” Thousands of people placed orders. The proceeds went to the ACLU, and the brand suddenly had a new mission. For the new exhibition, they’ve introduced a line of “Tiny Pricks” t-shirts.
The New York show is the second time Weymar has shown “Tiny Pricks Project” in public, following an outing this spring at San Francisco’s Mule Gallery. In Lingua Franca’s Bleecker Street shop, the delicate textile works take up almost every surface, filling the shop windows and covering the walls. (Four prints of Weymar’s pieces are for sale at $2,500 each; the original donated stitchings will remain together and are not available for purchase.)
To date, Weymar has stitched some 300 Trump quotes, with 400 more sent to her from around the world. Many submissions have deeply personal stories: a piece made from a handkerchief of a Holocaust survivor by her granddaughter, or the Alaskan artist who smeared coal dust on her “beautiful clean coal” stitching.
“They are constantly being mailed in,” Weymar said. “It’s like my birthday every time one arrives—people are sending me presents!” Those interested in contributing can stop by the show to pick up supplies, or to participate in one of the Tiny Pricks workshops that will be taking place during its run.
“I’ve canvassed and donated to causes that I care about, but this was another way of getting involved and feeling like I was contributing to something,” said Leah Annitto, one of the contributors to the project, who incorporated an Ivanka Trump brand label into a “I’m a self-made woman” piece quoting the First Daughter
The goal is to have 2,020 pieces in time for the 2020 election, and to be able display the works by subject matter, grouping together quotes about issues such as abortion, North Korea, or Brett Kavanaugh. Weymar keeps a database of all the quotes that have been used so far, but she welcomes repeat submissions, saying “the more they’re repeated, the more it shows that quote resonated. And everyone does them in a different way.”
Given Trump’s decades in the public eye and his utter lack of a filter, the possibilities are almost endless. “Back on Howard Stern and in Playboy [in the 1990s], he was saying things that were really crazy,” said Weymar. “But he’s not that different now!”
She attributes the project’s success both to its subject matter and the media—stitching is an extremely portable art form that lends itself to multitasking. Weymar estimates that roughly half of her contributors already have an existing stitching practice—all contributions are welcome, regardless of skill levels—while others are just “politically agitated,” she explained. “Every piece here has been lovingly made and donated—most people don’t want to keep it because it’s Trump’s words!”
“I consider this care-taking of the political record,” Weymar added, likening the project to making a family scrapbook or baby book, or to saving significant textiles. Using needlework—traditionally relegated to the realm of craft and women’s work—for the project is fitting she believes, because “women hold on to these memories.”
See more photos of the exhibition below.
Diana Weymar’s “Tiny Prick Project” is on view at Lingua Franca, 382 Bleecker Street, New York, June 12–September 3, 2019.
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