These characters are childhood memories of the ultimate man – the Dad every boy wants, the man every boy wants to grow up to be. My hand knit acrylic re-creations of these heroes’ costumes combine their heroic, protective, ultra-masculine, yet vulnerable personae with the protective gestures of my mother – hand knit acrylic sweaters meant to keep me safe from New England winters. The costumes are life-size, my size, wearable objects that hang limply on hangers challenging the standard muscular form of the hero and offering the space for someone to imagine themselves wearing the costume, becoming the hero. They become the uniforms I can wear to protect my family from the threats (bullies, murderers, terrorists, pedophiles, and fanatical messianic characters) we are told surround us.
The Sweatermen are heroes of my own invention. They push the language of the hero costume by highlighting knitting materials, textures, and traditions in the form of the costume. Some of the color and texture choices, as in Sweaterman 3, are based on the sweaters my mother made, her love of cables, and her color choices. The most recent costumes in this series (Sweaterman 4-9) combine the colors of comic book heroes with detailed knitting patterns. In each of these I work to forge a link between childhood experience and my adult exploration of protection, masculinity, and heroism.