Archived Story

NYC artist tackles sexism, racism and homophobia

Published 9:32am Monday, July 14, 2014

NEW YORK — Linda Stein wants people to armor themselves in her art.

She creates full-length wearable sculptures embedded with all manner of found objects, including driftwood, engraving plates, steel wire, zippers, pebbles and comic book imagery of superheroes.

Her idea grew out of her sense of vulnerability after the Sept. 11 attacks, with the aim of giving wearers a sense of empowerment and protection. Her targets are any form of institutionalized 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 and the comic book hero Wonder Woman, along with words “I will … not let cultural impediments and sexual stereotypes hold me down.”

At a recent “body swapping” at her Tribeca studio, she invited a group of professional women to try on what she calls sculptural avatars, which can each weigh from seven to 20 pounds. Stein asked the wearers to imagine they are trying on another skin “to get in touch with how their bodies feel.”