As this brutal election cycle comes to an end, levity is in short supply. But artist Amy Homburger believes that there's never been a more critical time to laugh. Sure, laughter is healing, and it feels good. But it is also a powerful weapon, and when it comes to defeating a self-important man like Donald Trump, it's perhaps the best way to take him down, she says. And for her, that means dressing the Commander-in-Chief up like a paper doll, but using fabric rather than paper.
She has depicted Trump as a poop head, a hatemonger, a fly and a clown. And each time she takes aim, she hopes to provoke a laugh.
Homburger is far from a professional agitator. She graduated from Colorado State University in 1992 with a marketing degree and a minor in sociology, worked for ten years as an office manager, then left the workforce to have children and make art. Just before COVID-19 hit, she returned to the workforce as a crossing guard at her kids' school. Then schools shut down. Now, sewing in her basement, she's hoping her designs will impact the future of this country.
Westword caught up with Homburger to find out more about her paper-doll propaganda and get her thoughts on today's election.
Westword: Tell me about yourself.
Amy Homburger: Currently, I sew things. I’ve made lots of T-shirts, quilts, a few pet-portrait pillows and lots of odds and ends.
How did you get started on this project?
I’m a stay-at-home mom of two teens, and last spring finally got a part-time job working as a crossing guard at their high school, Denver South. After about one month on the job, COVID hit and school closed, and I started sewing masks. After about 1,000 masks and with still too much time on my hands, I found a wall hanging of Trump that I made in 2018. It’s based on the logo from the podcast Trumpcast. I decided to make him some outfits. I call it my Paper Doll Project.
An opinion piece in the New York Times titled “To Beat Trump, Mock Him” inspired me to keep going until the election. Specifically quoted in the article are George Orwell in 1945 — “Every joke is a tiny revolution” — and Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 while in prison: “The grins of the people are the nightmares of the dictators.”
And just a couple of days ago, I saw a tweet from Richelle A. Resister in which they review the Borat movie and say, “Mocking the cruel and powerful is a great skill right now.”
So this is my sort of middle-aged-mom version of all of that.
Where are these displayed?
These are all photographs that I’ve taken. It’s one wall hanging that I dress up over and over and photograph each time.
Depending on how the election goes, will you keep it up?
If Mitch McConnell gets re-elected, I might do another round for him. Some quick ideas that come to mind for him are turtle, English schoolboy, boxer — what’s up with the hand?, devil, bloody abortion, sexual sadist, Thanksgiving turkey, lollipop, Admiral Ackbar and Moscow Mitch.
Does it matter who wins?
Hell, yes, it matters.
Are you an equal-opportunity satirist when it comes to Democrats and Republicans?
I’m an independent voter, but I lean left. If there’s a Democrat deserving of mockery, I’d take that on. For instance, in retrospect, Bill Clinton seems like a big ol’ creep. But he’s irrelevant now, in my opinion, so it’d have to be a current Dem kook. I’m always open to suggestions.