Nam-Y Nguyen

Thick Skin

Class of: 2024

Major: Architectural Design BFA

Medium: Sculpture

Faculty: Micki Watanabe Spiller

Prompt: The prompt of this assignment is to create a “superhero costume” that communicates and demonstrates the concept of “Avatar”. An Avatar is conceptually the embodiment of an abstract, idea, or principle.

The concept that inspired this piece is the idea of having a “tough skin”. This work explores what it means to separate us from our surroundings. Furthermore, I wanted to portray the metaphorical armor that we construct in order to protect ourselves from harm, others, and life itself. Yet, this armor is weak and it reflects our innate nature of connection and vulnerability with others. This wall that we erect in our everyday lives is a double-edged sword that harms our relationship with others but also the relationship with ourselves. As a result, this detachment convinces us to be void of emotions and develop a sense of desensitization.

The materials that this piece was created out of were: Lincane Aluminum Sheets, Copper Wires, and Door Hinges. I decided to use these aluminum sheets in order to mimic a cyborg persona detached from all human emotions. These sheets appear to be strong and unhinging yet in fact they are a representation of the malleable and weak wall that keeps us from others. Furthermore, the partially transparent nature of the piece conveys the human’s true nature of vulnerability. In order to convey the “double-edged sword” idea mentioned above, the piece itself is not only sharp against those who touch it but also for the wearer. The wearer has to be so careful in order not to cut themselves. The addition of the mask was to represent how difficult it is to reach out to others when we isolate ourselves from the world. All in all, this piece was meant to embody the nature of our resilient “thick skin” and both its worse and best ideals.