The Dinosaur Onesie Project

Arianna Warner designed The Dinosaur Onesie Project to create a community based in happiness. While being hospitalized for a chronic medical condition, she transformed her stressful stay into a positive experience. Warner wore a dinosaur onesie outfit she purchased off the internet around the hospital to the smiles and laughter of everyone who saw her. Warner’s hospital performance interrupted the attention of patients and staff from their struggles and redirected it to the surprising sight of the artist in her outfit. By talking to Warner and to each other about the Dinosaur Onesie, the individuals previously separated by sadness came together in happiness. 

Upon returning to college in the Fall, she realized that she could expand the project. The University’s atmosphere during midterms shared the hospital’s tension and malaise. Warner created artistic avenues for the students-as-viewers to become participants through her performance of attending class in the onesie, hiding 3” wax dinosaurs around the campus, and screen-printing the image of the dinosaur onesie on t-shirts. A Tumblr for pictures of the miniature wax dinosaurs’ adventures expanded the routes available to interact with the project. The community of happiness grew as Warner brought people together at her t-shirt workshop. By interrupting the student’s daily grind with the dinosaur onesie, the artist created a playground for social learning to complement the University’s heavy academic environment. 

The success of the project at the hospital and the university led the artist to take her message on the road. Driving up the 101 fwy spread the project along the California coast from San Diego to San Francisco and expanded the audience beyond the specific environments of hospital and university to the general environment of everyday life. The burden of dealing with our personal struggles is lifted by a smile, where we can find the strength in ourselves to catch what life throws at us. 

Ultimately, The Dinosaur Onesie Project is about strangers creating a community by sharing and listening. We know that OTHERS have the power to inspire us, but we too often
forget that WE have the power to inspire others.