An artist’s depiction of the Capitol riot has people searching for the insurrectionists they know.
The “Insurrection Maze” includes hundreds of the most notorious participants from the Jan. 6, 2021 attempt to overthrow democracy and keep former President Donald Trump in power. The artist who created it, Brian Michael Weaver, unveiled the maze earlier this week.
In an exclusive interview on Thursday, Weaver told the Daily Dot that he was motivated by a mix of anger, empathy, and concern for the future of the country. This mix of feelings inspired him to create a work that is similarly complex in its depiction of the horrors of that day and also what Weaver describes as its “buffoonery.” For instance, signs in the crowd read “1776 or whatever,” “victimhood,” “start the steal,” and other jabs at the participants.
“I wanted to get everything that really disturbed me in one place,” he said.
Weaver spent “an embarrassing amount of time” combing through hundreds of hours of footage, images, and descriptions to create the illustration, which is being described as the Where’s Waldo? of the Capitol riot. To assist those searching for people they recognize, the Insurrection Maze includes a “seditionist scumbag checklist” of 100 of its most infamous participants.
“That barely covers everyone,” Weaver said.
NBC News journalist Ryan J. Reilly tweeted the maze and a link to Weaver’s website on Wednesday.
“Of course we all start looking for faces we recognize!” @erica1933 commented on Reilly’s tweet.
Others have pointed out Jake Chansley, aka the QAnon shaman, former West Virginia lawmaker Derrick Evans, the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Roger Stone, Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander, and others. Weaver estimates that there are roughly 400 people in the illustration.
While Weaver took care to show many people as they appeared in the most memorable moments of that day, he used creative license with others. He shows a group of Proud Boys but calls them “butt buddies.” Similarly, a column of Oath Keepers are referred to “ass grabbers.”
“They make me very angry, even as I’m talking about it now,” he said.
Asked why he has such venom for the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, Weaver became reflective.
“It might be that they aren’t unfamiliar to me as people. I grew up with people like that. I might have even been someone like that.”
In some areas of the maze, Weaver uses irony to poke fun at Capitol rioters. People assaulting members of the press carry a banner that says “protect the First Amendment” and a rioter’s pitchfork includes a flag reading “we just wanna talk.”
He also unflinchingly captured the violence, drawing people beating the police, breaking windows, dousing the crowd with chemical spray, and even dying. Weaver acknowledged that some may be offended that he chose to depict such carnage, such as the deaths of Ashli Babbitt and Rosanne Boyland, both of whom are in the maze.
“If someone gets mad that I put people who died there that day, then I can’t blame them, but I would also say to them, but they did die,” he said.
He said that he was “very affected” by Babbitt’s death. “In a way, she was murdered by the politicians who filled her head with nonsense,” he said.
Weaver said he has empathy for the people whose real-life struggles, such as divorce and addiction, contributed to their actions at the Capitol riot, but added that they’re adults who are accountable for their actions.
He has previously forayed into current events with his “Anti-Masker Maze” that featured 20 prominent anti-maskers, but much of Weaver’s work is illustrating children’s magazines and books. He isn’t particularly concerned that this project, which he started working on nearly a year ago, will have negative ramifications for his career but acknowledged that it is a possibility.
“It might, but it wouldn’t bother me. To me the greatest moment of being an artist is being controversial and not just a cheap controversy,” Weaver said. “If it gets me in hot water, it’s done its job.”
Weaver plans to release both a poster and a jigsaw puzzle version of the Insurrection Maze on Friday, the two-year anniversary of the riot.