Elizabeth DeWald

Personal Exoskeleton

Class of: 2023

Major: Fashion Design BFA

Medium: Plaster fabric, wood, wire, organza

Faculty: Aviva Maya Shulem

Prompt: For this project, we researched and explored the notion of our senses, focusing on the sense of touch and the structure of insects’ external shields. Based on this research, we designed a wearable exoskeleton that serves as a skin-like structure covering our bodies.

Beyond acting as a physical form of armor, constructing this project acts as a metaphorical form of armor as well. After moving to New York from Miami, I have been feeling isolated from the majority of the student body. As a commuter student, I did not get to participate in the friend groups and bonds created from living in the dorms. Instead, I find myself alone whilst going back and forth on train rides for significant periods. I tend to force myself to put on a tough exterior of sorts, but one that is positive and happy-go-lucky rather than abrasive. Underneath it all, I am lonely and scared of what kind of future my education will hold. To convey this attitude of feeling like I put on a persona each day, I want to make a stiff structure gaudily covered in bright colors and metallics, as beetles have to ward off danger. For me, this project is less about the physical sensation of touch, but rather the concept of staying in touch with my emotions. Because of my consistent feelings of loneliness and isolation as of late, I am constantly in fear that I will break down and deteriorate, doomed to live in a depressive state where I constantly feel as if I’m going through the motions of school and my everyday life. I fear such because I have been trapped in the state before, but I progressed away from it drastically in the past year. Up until recently, I didn’t feel as if my exuberant attitude was an armor I was putting on every day, but rather something that was built into me like an exoskeleton.