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Art as a Protective Second Skin

It was 1992. Chicago artist Nick Cave was in turmoil over the beating of Rodney King. Sitting in a park, he noticed a twig on the ground. It was discarded—a symbol of how he felt as a black man in America. This small branch would inspire the creation of a wearable sculpture—a protective second skin of sorts—made entirely of twigs. He dubbed it a soundsuit. Since then, Cave has made hundreds of soundsuits out of metal, fabric, beads, buttons and other scrapped materials. Here’s how he uses these works of art in collaborative performance projects exploring racial injustice and empowerment.


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