Bespoke Bodies: The Design & Craft of Prosthetics

Wounded soldier with two prosthetic arms undergoing instruction in a workshop of the Hindenburg House in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia).

Entertaining the Troops gives a peek into the life of a WWI soldier Bespoke Bodies: The Design & Craft of Prosthetics explores the past, present and future of prosthetic design. Opening June 8 in the Wylie Gallery at the National WWI Museum and Memorial, the exhibition features stories from professional athletes, veterans, children and other users who collaborated with prosthetists and designers to create prostheses with improved functionality, comfort, adaptability and aesthetics. Bespoke Bodies combines these experiences with contemporary and historical artifacts showcasing the innovations and impact of prosthetic design.

Bespoke Bodies is presented in collaboration with Design Museum Everywhere and features objects from the National WWI Museum and Memorial’s collection of artifacts from the Great War — a pivotal time in the field of prosthetics. The addition of artifacts from the Museum and Memorial provide a unique historical context to explore urgent contemporary conversations around design and disability.

The LUKE Arm, developed by DARPA and DEKA Integrated Solutions, offers new levels of dexterity and flexibility to upper-limb prosthetic users. “LUKE,” which stands for Life Under Kinetic Evolution, is also a reference to the limb with which Luke Skywalker was endowed in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to explore the evolution of prosthetic devices through visual stories, historical timelines and videos. Bespoke Bodies features close to 50 examples of prosthetics from around the world — spanning a prosthetic arm with a lego attachment to mind-controlled bionic limbs — with stories of professional athletes, veterans and children who each became part of their own design process. Their stories demonstrate that when more perspectives of people who use prostheses are part of the creation process, the better the design. Together, they have helped transform what’s possible for the future of human mobility.

Developed with a committee of advisors made up of people who use and create prostheses, Bespoke Bodies aims to broaden conversations around disability and design. The exhibition is on view in the Museum and Memorial’s Wylie Gallery for $10, or an additional $4 when added to general admission. A wide array of education and programming will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition. Stay tuned to theworldwar.org/events for more information.

–National WWI Museum and Memorial

A LimbForge patient in Haiti named Ebe, with her 3D-printed prosthetic arm. Ebe’s prosthesis is an evolved version originally crafted by Arthur Hobson and Jeff Erenstone. LimbForge is an organization dedicated to aiding the shortage of prosthetic rehabilitation in the developing world. (photo courtesy of Limbforge)
CategoriesArts Partners

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