Soundsuit (NC.06.019)

Nick Cave, American, born 1959



Appliquéd knitted and crocheted fabric, plastic netting, Easter grass, cellophane and mylar ribbon, plastic tubing, sequins, mirrors, beads, yarn, and paint, mounted on a commercial mannequin

Overall: 79 × 31 × 26 in. (200.7 × 78.7 × 66 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W'18 Fund

© Nick Cave. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.



Place Made: United States, North America


21st century

Object Name


Research Area


On view


Nick Cave constructed his first Soundsuit in 1992 in response to the police beating of Rodney King. Feeling vulnerable as a Black man living in the United States, he fashioned a suit of armor from sticks and twigs. Upon wearing it, he realized it made a unique sound, giving the series its name. Cave continued making fantastical suits of armor from reclaimed and discarded materials such as Easter grass, mirrors, yarn, wires, and netting. Cave’s Soundsuits camouflage the wearer’s body, concealing their race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. They set the wearer free from judgments based on one’s identity and serve as a visual embodiment of social justice, simultaneously representing protection and empowerment.

From the 2023 exhibition Gather, Move, Resonate: Nick Cave & Jeffrey Gibson, curated by Alisa Swindell, Associate Curator of Photography, Jami C. Powell, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs & Curator of Indigenous Art, and Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Course History

Studio Art 16.01, Sculpture I, Matt Siegle, Winter 2023

Studio Art 16.02, Sculpture I, Matt Siegle, Winter 2023

Exhibition History

Garmenting: Costume and Contemporary Art, Museum of Art and Design, New York, March 12-August 14, 2022.

Gather, Move, Resonate: Nick Cave and Jeffrey Gibson, Luise and Morton Kaish Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, November 18, 2023-December 1, 2024

Kenneth J. Foster, Nick Cave, Katie Eilertsen, Dan Cameron, and Pamela McClusky, Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth, San Francsicso: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 2009, ill. p. 117.

Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, March 28–July 5, 2009.

Nick Cave: Soundsuits, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY, October 13–November 12, 2006.

Publication History

Lanny Silverman, Nick Cave, and James H. Sanders, Nick Cave: Soundsuits, Chicago: Chicago Cultural Center, 2006, ill. p. 2.

Andrew Bolton, Elvira Dyangani Ose, and Nate Thompson, Nick Cave: Epitome, New York: Prestel, 2014, ill. p. 273.


Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, New York; sold to private collection; Phillips NY 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, New York, New York, November 14, 2018, lot 324; sold to Evelyn Aimis Fine Art, Miami, Florida; purchased by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, 2022.

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