I must be a masochist, at least if the next project is any indication. I’m starting a series of nine small quilts (42”x30”) each with an excerpt from the 2016 (& 2020) Republican platform. So first of all I must be a masochist for reading that document as filed with prejudice and disdain as it is. But that is slightly beside the point. The immediate bit of masochism is all the letters that will need to be appliquéd, and how small they are.
Honestly I am not quite sure just how I am going to appliqué these; they run between 1.5” and 2” tall. That makes some of the strokes in the letterforms extremely thin, even when bold. I may be able to get thread around the edges without it looking like a tangled mess, but more likely I’m just going to have to run a single lines of straight-stitch down the middle of the strokes.
I suppose I’ll figure that out on the fly because I am really enamored of this project. I love how the accumulation of fragmentary texts works en masse. I love the internal contradictions that arise and how the contextualize each other to make something that at first blush seems benign reveal itself as genuinely hateful, or at least lacking in compassion.
What really gets me about the language in the fragments is that it tries to obfuscate what it is actually saying. Like Jenny Holzer’s Truisms, at first the almost sound okay, but upon a second rad the cruelty behind the words becomes apparent. I suppose that is one of my biggest problems with the Republican party: the way they claim a moral high ground even as their actual positions are filled with petty meanness. It’s all an extension of the America First mentality that harkens back to a time when widespread oppression of minorities was still acceptable. At its core, the platform is systematized and legitimized hate.
Thus this project. I envision all nine of these hung together, playing off of each other, and revealing the subtle manipulations of language that obscure the depths of hatred for the other. Phrases like “natural marriage” and “dynamic compassion” bury the reality of LGBTQ+ phobia and an abiding disdain for the poor. And when they are all put together the truth of the Republican positions become apparent.
But this isn’t just about the Republican party’s ill intent. It is about the abuse of language that has defined the party since Reagan initiated “trickle-down economics,” one of the greatest intellectual scams of the past fifty years. But I continue to digress…
My fingers already ache at the endless appliqué that I am walking into. Hopefully it will be worth it.