Allison Walker

Wooden “Skin Tone” Dress

My project is a garment that represents a variety of different skin colors, that will help viewers see how similar our skin tones are to each other and perhaps how ridiculous it is to use skin color as a way to segregate ourselves.

Materials and Building Strategies,Personal Expression and Wearable Technologies

My project focuses on skin color by using multiple panels of dyed wood to represent different skin tones. The concept was inspired by interviews, research about artists using the body, and research about body image issues in different parts of the world. The use of wood panels to represent skin color, came from thinking about how different woods have a range of light-to-dark brown shades, much like skin color.

User Scenario
Users will look at the dress and attempt to find their skin tone on it, by holding up their arm to see if they match one of the shades.

It's made of laser cut and dyed, 1/16" basswood. I'm using different amounts of diluted aniline dyes to replicate skin colors, and finishing each piece with Tung or Dutch oil.

In producing this piece, I've learned that while our skin colors are only minutely different from each other, and so logically perhaps we should see ourselves as more similar to each other than different, in reality we do not relate to each other on skin color alone. Our concept of what is the "correct" skin color in different cultures and how we view each other is not solely reliant on skin color. Our facial features, our dress, our hair and our society all determine what our particular skin tone really means.