Walker Mahany

Arthropod Amplification

Class of: 2024

Major: Fashion Design BFA

Medium: Sculpture, acrylic, wire, etc.

Faculty: Aviva Shulem

Prompt: This project asked us to use inspiration from exoskeletons found in nature to design and create a structure around the human body. We were required to use linear materials in our designs.

My inspiration for this piece comes from magnified images of different exoskeletons. The close-up views reveal a range of geometric and organic shapes. One specific image of overlapping rectangles stood out to me the most. I wanted to create something with components that mimicked this concept of overlay. I decided to use the shapes I researched to create a functional shoulder piece, similar to that of armor. Just like in armor, exoskeletons are composed of many smaller pieces that are fit together in a way that provides protection as well as enabling motion.

In order to show dimensionality I constructed frames. The negative space created by the structure makes a visually interesting pattern. In the final piece, the frames were cut out of a thick acrylic/plastic material using a CNC machine. After sanding the edges of each piece, I spray painted them using black and iridescent spray paint. The frames were secured together using a lightweight copper wire that was wrapped in an “x” formation to provide support. In order to challenge myself, I connected another layer above a few of the frames. For this process I used a saw to cut a 1/8 in. wide, hollow metal rods into 0.5 in. long segments. The segments were stuck in small holes I drilled into each corner of the frames. Finally, another frame was placed and secured on top. Glue was not necessary because the segments fit snug enough. I did this for three of the frames and positioned them in a balanced composition.

For the back of the piece, I used wire to link rings made out of the same acrylic material into chains. I created two different sized layers that met up at the frames. The organic shape of the rings contrasts the geometric appeal of the frames.