How One Artist Is Using “Tiny Pricks” To Spark An Anti-Trump Movement

Photo: Courtesy of Diana Weymar.
“There were just so many things that were so wrong about him. But then, it was so right for stitching.” That’s how textile artist Diana Weymar describes the origins of her “Tiny Pricks Project,” an ongoing, collective effort in which quotes from Donald Trump are hand-stitched onto vintage fabrics, the results of which are currently on display at Lingua Franca in New York and Speedwell Projects in Portland, Maine. 
Following the 2016 election, Weymar, like many of us, was looking for an outlet for feelings of anger, fear, and sadness. The first piece she created depicts one of Trump’s most memorably ironic quotes: “I’m a very stable genius.” (“There was so much to sort out about that statement, because often to be a genius is not to be stable,” she remarks.) On January 8, 2018, she embroidered those words on a cushion handed down by her grandmother, Instagrammed it, and soon began making and sharing others. Less than six months later, women were approaching her to ask if they could contribute their own. Now, the “Tiny Tricks Project” is comprised of over 10,000 pieces and will continue through at least the 2020 election. If Trump wins, they’ll continue on after that. But Weymar is hoping the project can have a small hand in ensuring that doesn’t happen. 
At Lingua Franca, a boutique owned by media entrepreneur Rachelle Hruska MacPherson, whose cashmere sweaters embroidered with sayings like “I Miss Barack” and “Nevertheless She Persisted” have gone viral multiple times over, “Tiny Pricks” artwork covers every available inch of wallspace. You might imagine being inside a room filled with the verbal detritus expelled from Donald Trump’s brain would be claustrophobic at best and sick-making at worst, and sure, that’s one way to perceive it. But there are a lot of other factors at play.
For one thing, the pieces are fun to look at, both individually and as a whole. You could spend hours picking apart each one, imagining the person who created them, wondering what it was that made them finally decide they needed this creative release. But beyond aesthetics, in an ever-churning news cycle where it often feels like nothing the president says ever sticks to him, it’s comforting to know that somebody — actually, a whole lot of somebodies — are not just taking notice, but quietly recording in this very physical, durable way. What might be easy to brush off in tweet form is harder to deny when its been painstakingly stitched onto fabrics that, in some cases, may be older than Trump himself. 
“He's not really our president. He's the president for his base and he’s just going to keep firing tweets off his whole presidency with more and more inflammatory and ridiculous things,” Weymar observes. “I began to feel this obligation to create a record of that. It’s a record of accountability. And if you don’t keep someone accountable, they could get away with something.”
The “Tiny Pricks” are full of juxtapositions: They transform a traditionally feminine craft, one historically not taken seriously as an art form, into a tool to bring down one of America’s most glaring misogynists. They turn ugly words meant to divide into beautiful artifacts that unify. By virtue of their vintage nature, they force us in the present to consider the past, and all the things that led us to where we are today.
“People ask, well, wouldn't it be great if this was a room full of Obama quotes? But I just don't think it'd be the same exhibit. I just think it wouldn't really hold the same tension or contrast,” says Weymar. 
Following Trump’s election, a popular sentiment seemed to be that the silver lining was that at least his presidency would inspire interesting art. Many of history’s most tumultuous moments have, after all, been among the most artistically fruitful. Tellingly, while art is often about the individual, much of the art that has come out of the Trump era is about championing the collective. There’s the Nasty Women Exhibition, which started at New York’s Knockdown Center and now travels globally, the Creative Time-commissioned series of protest flags by artists like Marilyn Minter and Yoko Ono, and many other, similar collective actions. It makes sense: When it comes to making a political statement, there’s impact in numbers. It’s not about being the lone creative genius, it’s about being among the ranks of people using their creative talents — whether professionally honed or self-appointed — to make a meaningful visual statement. 
While Weymar is a professional artist, many of the participants in the project are not. “Some of these things are very inspiring,” Weymar says, gesturing to an anonymously-submitted piece bearing Trump’s words about Mexicans being criminals and rapists. “She didn’t feel that she could identify herself, but she felt it was important to do. It’s inspiring that people are willing to be a little bit uncomfortable.”
When I visited her, Weymar was posted up at Lingua Franca, seated on a big cushion in the middle with her laptop, ready to chat with whomever should happen to wander in. Outside of opening events, artists aren’t usually available in this way, so it was a rare opportunity, and for some people just hoping to browse, perhaps a little more than they bargained for.  “People walk away and then they look again. I’m always really excited when people come back 10 or 15 minutes later,” Weymar says. “That just happened this morning, this German family came back in and the daughter asked about making a piece. But she didn’t ask the first time though. And I think that’s probably more interesting.”

She is excited to take the project “out of the little liberal bubble and see how it’s received.” Maine, where part of the project will be on show until November, is considered a purple state, and Weymar hopes it will spark conversation there. She’d also love to show them at the Democratic Convention and hopes that, one day, when this is all over, they might find a permanent home at an institution like the Smithsonian. 
“The most important thing is that it’s an ongoing call for action. It’s participatory and anyone can join,” she says. “It’s about finding a positive way to approach the very negative. And then that helps you with other things.”

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series