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Linda Stein wants people to armor themselves in her art

By ULA ILNYTZKY

NEW YORK (AP) -- 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."

"It's like putting on a whole new persona," said Rinku Sen, who struck a "Rocky" pose in front of a mirror in a "Wonder Woman" torso made of acrylicized paper.

Another participant, Dana Sparling, donned a heavier metal creation she said felt like a "shield between me and the world."

Stein explained that she features Wonder Woman prominently in the works because "she never killed."

"She protected the weak and downtrodden wearing her bracelets and her black lasso. It's very hard to find a female superhero that's not violent and isn't a total sex object," Stein said.

The representation of gender and sexual identity is a longstanding tradition in activist art that dates back to the feminist movement, said Muhlenberg College art history professor Margo Hobbs. She said Stein's work is particularly powerful because "it works on the viewer's body to bring about a really visceral rather than an intellectual experience."

Reminiscent of classical torsos, a group of her sculptures is making the rounds at 24 universities, galleries and museums across the country in what is a seven-year traveling exhibition, "The Fluidity of Gender," that runs through 2017.

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kittenblu July 14 2014 at 9:29 AM

Wow...simply lame. This looks like trash Id find at the dump. Oh no wait, its 'art'. So stupid.

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PatsEbayMail kittenblu July 14 2014 at 9:55 AM

And people actually buy this stuff?????????????????? Ridiculous.

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Judith PatsEbayMail July 14 2014 at 12:47 PM

Ridiculous????? Well, people who bought Dali's, Warhol's, or Nierman's works when they were first shown, for instance, were thought to be ridiculous. I sure wish I had been one of them.

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Dee July 14 2014 at 11:17 AM

Wonder Woman's lasso was gold... She wrapped people in it to make them tell the truth.

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corgi44 July 14 2014 at 11:53 AM

Three words:
Female, capitalist, democrat :)

GO GIRL....(some will buy it).....

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tammythun July 14 2014 at 12:06 PM

Looks like crap!!! Junkyard ready! This is NOT art this is ridiculous and ugly!

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siouxmurphy July 14 2014 at 12:26 PM

I love ART. Took the courses all my life growing up and finished @ University. And your right people...there's a lot of crap out there, but the Artsy Fartsy except it all.... almost like the Flowerchildren of the 70's. Hey...shouldn't bother us, don't like it, don't buy it.

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MIchigan Man siouxmurphy July 14 2014 at 3:00 PM

Any person who has attended any university should know the difference between 'your' and 'you're'

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Judith July 14 2014 at 12:36 PM

The work that went into these items is incredible. It's unique, interesting, and fun. She made one huge error, though -Wonder Woman's lasso is gold, not black.

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eric Judith July 14 2014 at 1:15 PM

Not to mention the fact that she was not a "total sex object" with a 38D bust and all the rest of a Playboy-dream-figure come true. (Or did they cast Linda Carter for the TV series for some other reason)

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bigred8690 July 14 2014 at 12:45 PM

What is she scared of, terrorists or men? This is just a man-hating feminism with an elitist artistic angle.

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MIchigan Man July 14 2014 at 2:58 PM

Just a way to exploit vulnerable individuals while she profits.

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