Meet 18-year-old Aria Watson, creator of the #SignedByTrump photo series
For her class’s final project, she painted models with Trump’s quotes about women
Oregon native Aria Watson was two weeks too young to vote for Hillary Clinton in the most recent presidential election. But, she didn’t let that stop her voice from being heard. Weeks before the election, she had started working on her latest college photography project: #SignedByTrump.
#SignedByTrump is supposed to highlight the cruel words President-Elect Donald Trump has said about women. This not only shows how he envisions women to actually be, but is terrifying to think that our new president will act like this in The White House.
She wanted to not only detail the atrocities he has said about women, but how people were still able to support him after all these remarks were made.
“As a proud feminist, hearing Trump say ‘grab them by the pussy’ and talk about how he could do anything he wanted made me absolutely sick. Women are not objects. The fact that he said this and other things like this, but still won, scares me,” Watson said via Facebook chat.
She credits the creation of her project to her models who she couldn’t have done it without. It was difficult for her to initially find models for the series as they would have to expose themselves and also because “it’s hard for a lot of people to be open about their political opinions,” Aria says. The models she used for her photo series consist of her friends, family and after one of the models cancelled on her, a self-portrait of herself.
“I had such a blast taking photos of my friends, and getting closer with them. Nothing makes you closer than painting words on someone’s exposed body!”
Due to her models being family and friends she decided to omit their faces so they wouldn’t have to deal with any possible negative comments. Being a YouTuber, she understands the harsh criticism that occurs online. This and the power of anonymity helped her really form her photo series. It helped make her project even more powerful; displaying the jarring words on a woman’s bare body without seeing the models face, you can picture yourself, or anyone, in the context of Trump’s words.
Aria received a lot of positive feedback in her photo project, but was questioned about the lack of diversity in the models. Donald Trump spent the entirety of his campaign making disgusting remarks about African-Americans, Latinos and other minorities and it was questioned why she wouldn’t take advantage of that. One of her models is Latina, but she completely understands that the vast majority are white.
Although she wanted to include people of color in her series her small town of Warrenton, Oregon, lacks the diversity she would have needed to fulfill her piece. “The other women of color I knew weren’t 18 yet, but if they were I would have asked them to model for me,” Aria added.
Although she has received some negative responses about her photo series, she has also received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback.
“Some people have told me I made their day, that my art work spoke to them, that I’ve inspired them, and some have even gone as far as saying I am their hero. To everyone who has supported me and #SignedByTrump, don’t let anyone silence you. Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you are passionate about. I don’t know why Donald Trump is in office, or how this even happened, but he is. What we need now more than ever is to come together. We are stronger together.”
Through her photo series, she has partnered with The Outrage, a company that sells products geared towards female empowerment. 15 percent of Aria’s profits will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.