Superheroes have a way of inspiring people. Sometimes their stories and personalities influence groups to stand together for what’s right. At other times, they leave a more personal impression on someone. For artist Hetain Patel, it was Spider-Man that made a huge difference in his life, and he recently decided to thank the web-slinging Marvel hero with a piece of art that is much more than what it appears to be.
Over the course of four months, Patel created a sculpture titled “Letter to Peter Parker.” It’s a life-size fiberglass cast of himself wearing a special Spider-Man suit. From far away, it might look like the usual costume the superhero would wear, but if you get close to it, you’ll notice that the texture of the suit is actually made up of words composing a letter to the hero.
“The text repeats over and over and essentially thanks Peter Parker for all the reasons I used to relate to him as a kid,” Patel explained in an interview with TED Talks. “He helped make me who I am today.”
Part of Patel’s letter reads as follows:
“Dear Peter Parker, There are a few things I’d like to thank you for. First and foremost thank you for making a mask to cover your face. Thank you for making a suit to cover every inch of your skin. Because of this, I too can be Spider-Man without having to be the Asian Spider-Man or the Indian Spider-Man.”
According to TED Talks, Patel also writes, “Thank you for being skinny and wearing glasses. Thank you for being too shy to talk to girls. Thank you for being bullied and for having the shit knocked out of you.”
“I think Marvel got it so right with Peter Parker/Spider-Man,” he said. “He is essentially modeled on all the nerdy kids like me that read the comics.”
Patel’s sculpture is an impressive tribute to the character and a reminder of just how much comic book heroes can mean to those reading their stories.
“Letter to Peter Parker” can be seen as part of Patel’s “The Other Suit” show at the Chatterjee & Lal gallery in Mumbai, India, through Feb. 28.