A conversation with Diana Weymar of The Tiny Pricks Project

Diana Weymar. Photo Credit: Christine O’Donnell

Art and politics often go hand in hand. From portraits of generals from battles of old, to Shepard Fairey’s iconic Hope image to Picasso’s Guernica, art has always been used to push messages and viewpoints.

While one might assume that art related to the presidency of Donald Trump would have had an overt political agenda from its inception, but that is, in fact, incorrect. For Diana Weymar, the creator of The Tiny Pricks Project, her work was more a method of processing stress and emotional turmoil rather than an instrument of disseminating a particular message.

“It’s so political… If these were Obama’s quotes you probably wouldn’t be talking to me. Because I loved Obama and I don’t remember anything he said. And I hate Trump and I remember everything he said.”

Diana Weymar

Embroidery has been Weymar’s hobby turned art form for many years. It began as something to do while attending one of her four children’s hockey games, riding as a passenger in a car or watching television.

Back in 2017 embroidery and politics melded together when she stitched “I am a very stable genius.” onto a floral piece and the Tiny Pricks Project was born.

One of the original quotes by Diana Weymar. Photo Credit: Diana Weymar

What started as a personal project, stitching one quote a week soon seemed to vastly underestimate the sheer number of quotable items the president produced. This “Stitch ‘n’ Bitch for the Trump Era” offered Weymar an opportunity to channel her feelings about the current administration and she soon realized that she was far from alone.

One of the original quotes by Diana Weymar. Photo Credit: Christine O’Donnell

This project, which began with a few quotes of Donald Trump’s embroidered on vintage fabric, has clearly become much more. One could argue that it “went viral” as Weymar’s Instagram account of the project (@tinypricksproject) inspired people to send her their own embroidered quotes.

Weymar now embroiders every day, and her Instagram account @tinypricksproject has amassed a following of over 40,000. The Tiny Pricks Project not only features her works, but also that of the hundreds of people who have sent her their own contributions. She currently has a collaborative collection that will reach over 2,000 pieces by the end of October, 2019.

One of Trump’s Tweets, memorialized as part of The Tiny Pricks Project. Photo Credit: Christine O’Donnell
People send in things other than embroidered quotes as well. There is a whole collection of dolls, including this “tiny handed” Covfefe doll, wearing the “hamberder” (sic) bib
The most famous doll in the archive – “Sadly she is no longer a TEN” One-eyed Raggedy Ann

This collaborative collection spent four months on display in New York’s Greenwich Village. Lingua Franca, an upmarket clothing store featuring garments with embroidered messages embraced their common love of the medium and hosted the work for over 4 months.

Diana Weymar at Lingua Franca, NYC, Photo Credit: Christine O’Donnell

While the Lingua Franca show closed at the end of September, a portion of the collection is now on view in Portland, Maine at Speedwell Gallery through November 3rd. It features over 600 pieces and is actively soliciting more work.

Weymar’s project continues to grow in size, scope, and importance with every delivery of new work, as well as with the continuing twists and turns of American politics. Contributors see this project as a platform to get their voice heard. Pieces relating to the epidemic of suicides that plague veterans, sexual assault, as well as the impeachment investigation have all been recent submissions.

Piece by Carla Ciuffo
Caption quoted from @Tinypricksproject: “In every story I tell comes a point where I can see no further.” – Anne Carson “What’s to be done with the lost, the dead, but to write them into being.” – Hilary Mantel – epigraph from Janet Burroway’s book (pictured), about the piece He Knows Less, she stitched and shares these words, “My elder son Tim Eysselinck was born in Belgium in 1964, and this was his “first suit,’ a gift from some friend or relative. Tim grew up, to the consternation of us all, in love with honor, glory and all things military. He spent many years in the Army and Reserve, and went to Iraq in 2003 as an expert in mine removal. There he got got enough of war, and came back bitterly disillusioned with the Army, the occupation, the privatization of which he was an unwitting part, and George W. Bush. He took his own life two months into his 40th year.
I have other baby clothes to pass on to his daughter, don’t remember who gave us this piece, and am very happy to offer it to the Tiny Pricks Project, which seems to me the right place to speak out against war.”

The Tiny Pricks Project is still open to submissions and hopes to have over 2,020 by the election year 2020 (a goal that will be easily reached). Weymar is angling to find exhibition spaces in seven different swing states in the United States’ upcoming pivotal election year. She has identified states such as Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Alabama as possible locations to feature the works, and plans a call to action allowing the project to grow organically in each location.

“For 2020 my what I’d like to do is to have [Tiny Pricks] go to seven swing states, [and] ten cities. [I’d bring] two hundred pieces. And the rest of the wall is blank. And so you complete your piece. And you bring it in and it goes up automatically.”

Diana Weymar

The culmination would be an exhibition of a portion of the installation at the Democratic National Convention in July 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Yet, there exist many obstacles to Weymar’s projects, in addition to the sheer scale of her undertaking: there are those who, for political or other reasons, wish to cause mischief. The most stark example of this was, on the evening that the Tiny Pricks Project opened in New York City, a hacker deleted the project’s Instagram account. Weymar hypothesizes that it was the result of her growing number of followers attracting attention rather than a political hit job. However, as Instagram held the entire record of the project (with a photograph of each piece and its reference number) this was a huge loss.

“I don’t know what happened. I don’t know who deleted it. I don’t think it was government related. I don’t think it was Trump related. I just think that there’s somebody out there who tracks activity on Instagram accounts and because I had 10,000 followers and there was so much activity that day they deleted it.”

Diana Weymar

Luckily there are methods to recover accounts from hackers, and Diana was able to recover the Tiny Pricks Project from oblivion. Since that disappearance it has quadrupled in size, and Diana remains equanimous about the vagaries of online life:

Someone gave me the advice that your Instagram account is like a bar and you’re the bar owner. If you have a customer and somebody is harassing that customer you can ask them to leave… that was really liberating for me.  

Diana Weymar

Although Weymar’s Tiny Pricks project may be the first of hers that has been so widely recognized, Weymar has been working on the concept of preserving words and memories in fiber for far longer. Her Interwoven Stories project, for instance, allows individuals of a particular location to create embroidered pages of a book that are then all kept together as a record of that place. There are now books in places such as Nantucket, San Francisco and Princeton, and the stories have been part of the Build Peace Project in Cypress, Belfast and Bogotá as well.

While embroidery has often been seen as a gentle art, a simple embellishment of fabric, Weymar has pushed the medium. Weymar stated, “I think the medium gets a lot of attention when you use it in a subversive way.” The Tiny Pricks Project has clearly pierced the social consciousness of many, inspiring participation in an analog medium, even though we live in an increasingly digital world. By making people think, yet as with many important cultural touchstones, all Weymar is doing is holding up a mirror.

This is an ongoing project. To contribute your own piece go to this link and follow the instructions!

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