Linda Stein wants people to armour themselves in her art.
She creates full-length wearable sculptures embedded with all manner of found objects including driftwood, wire, pebbles and comic book imagery of superheroes.
Her idea grew out of her sense of vulnerability after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, with the aim of giving wearers a sense of empowerment and protection. Her targets are any form of institutionalised oppression such as sexism, racism and homophobia.
She also designs “bullyproof vests” made from a patchwork of fabrics featuring such female symbols as the Japanese anime character Princess Mononoke, along with words: “I’ll not let cultural impediments and sexual stereotypes hold me down.”
At a recent “body swopping” at her Manhattan studio, she invited a group of professional women to try on what she calls sculptural avatars, which can each weigh from 7kg to 20kg.Stein asked the wearers to imagine they are trying on another skin “to get in touch with how their bodies feel”.