by Susan Brubaker Knapp, copyright 2017 (34.5" x 23.5")
Wholecloth painted, free-motion quilted. White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint and ink, wool batting, cotton thread, commercial cotton fabric (backing)
“Poisonous Words” is my entry for the “Threads of Resistance” exhibition, which will premiere at the New England Quilt Museum July 11, 2017, and then travel to 11 other venues, including museums and quilt shows. I am one of ten artists organizing this exhibition.
It is based on a sketch I made during the campaign, and features a painted and thread sketched portrait of Donald Trump with a copperhead snake going in his ear and out his mouth. He is surrounded by a cloud of his own poisonous words.
I hated making this quilt. I hated it that I felt I had to make it. Working on this piece – seeing these words and hearing Trump’s voice saying them — made me physically nauseated.
“When someone shows you who they are,
believe them the first time.”
– Maya Angelou
I was greatly disturbed by things Donald Trump said during the presidential campaign, and by the words he used. It was amazing how many women I know who were horrified to hear people using the word “pussy” or talking about pussyhats, but who brushed off Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comment as “boys will be boys” or “locker room talk.” So much of what came out of his mouth were racist, misogynistic and xenophobic insults.
For our democracy to succeed, and for us to solve vital problems our country faces, we must be able to discuss important issues with civility and respect, to listen to others’ views without insulting, even if we completely disagree. Finding common ground – even a small patch of it – is impossible without this. If these kinds of comments are considered acceptable for our president to say and tweet, then they become acceptable for others. They are a poison that infects us all.
I believe that the rise in hate crimes, as documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations, is a direct result. Words have power. Words often lead to actions. The poison is spreading.
All of the words in this piece are those of Donald Trump:
Nov. 13, 2015, campaign speech in Fort Dodge, Iowa: Trump said he wouldn’t reveal his secret plan to destroy ISIS, but “I would bomb the shit out of them. I’d just bomb those suckers. I’d blow up the pipes, I’d blow up the refineries, I’d blow up every single inch — there would be nothing left.”
July 13, 2016, on Twitter: “Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot - resign!”
Trump called Alicia Machado, Miss Universe 1996 “Miss Piggy,” because she gained weight after the competition. He also called her “Miss Housekeeper,” and “Miss Housekeeping,” apparently because she is Latina. “She was like an eating machine,” Trump told Howard Stern in a radio interview in February 1997.
Presidential announcement speech, June 16, 2015:
I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything. …I moved on her and I failed, I'll admit it," Trump can be heard saying in the video. “I did try and fuck her. She was married.”
In 2011, attorney Elizabeth Beck told CNN that she was representing clients who were trying to get their condominium deposits back from Trump after a failed real estate venture in 2011. She said that she had been taking a deposition from Trump when she asked for a break to pump breast milk. “He got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me and he screamed, ‘You're disgusting, you’re disgusting,’ and he ran out of there.”
Feb. 11, 2016, at a rally in New Hampshire, Donald Trump told voters to reject local companies who move business overseas: “You can tell them to go fuck themselves.” (He mouthed the word, but didn’t say it out loud.)
Oct. 19, 2016, at the final presidential debate, Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton was “such a nasty woman” while she was answering a question about how she would raise taxes on the rich to tackle debt and entitlements if she were to become president.
August 2016: After a presidential debate moderated by Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly, Trump said she “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
Dec. 7, 2015, statement on Muslim immigration: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”