Last fall I attended ArtPrize, a supercool festival that turns three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids into a giant gallery of art. My fav was a collaborative DisArt – SiTE:LAB exhibit (see photos below).
DisArt and SiTE:LAB are working together to create art experiences that transcend normal expectations of audience, space, and design. HYBRID STRUCTURES is an invitation to see and experience reality differently. As an experiment of accessibility and inclusion, the ramp demonstrates that art has a powerful role to play in the way we view abilities and disabilities of all types. It is our hope that the experience of being on top of HYBRID STRUCTURES transforms access itself into an art form by celebrating architecture that welcomes all users.
– Curatorial Statement
I followed up my visit with some more research on DisArt. Their aim is to change perceptions about disability (and accessibility) through art. They’re driven by the belief that communities are stronger when they intentionally include and recognize the gifts and talents of persons living with disabilities, and their artistic projects help increase the visibility of people with disabilities.
What’s particularly cool about this ramp is the way that it gets transformed into the stage for SiTE:LAB’s ELEVATE: A DisArt Fashion Show. This fashion show pushes expectations of design and fashion in hopes of redefining sentiments of style, access, and bodies. It celebrates disability, inclusivity, movement, and art. Check out the highlights from 2016 (which I sadly missed seeing in person)! It’s awesome!
1. It’s the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who! The long running BBC science fiction tv series about the adventures of a time-traveling humanoid alien known as the Doctor. My brother and I seriously loved this show when we were kids – it has great characters and some seriously creative low-tech special effects!
2. Dr. Who travels in this super cool ship – the TARDIS – a time machine that is bigger on the inside than the outside.
The TARDIS used from 2005 to 2010
3. It was Halloween a few weeks ago and I’ve started to notice an awesome trend toward Wheelchair Costumes (what a great idea!). There are lots of great ones out there, but one of my all time favourites is from the UK of Dr. Who and his TARDIS!
With their body as the joystick, these hands free wheelchairs allow dancers with disabilities to soar –
Dancer Merry Lynn Morris teaching one of her students in the hands free wheelchair – that expression says its all…
The soul of the chair comes from Morris experience with her father who was in a wheelchair. Finding it difficult to get close to him, to hug him, she felt the chair ‘caged in’ her father. Combined with her passion for dance, Morris later began to re-imagine a hands free wheelchair that was more ‘open’ to the world.
The science of this chair – which is controlled by the body – comes from a collaboration with a team of engineers at the University of South California –
The potential of this – of hands free chairs that respond to the body and are designed in a way that facilitates interaction and inclusivity (physically and socially) – blows my mind! Bring it on!
Occupational therapist Christina Stephens designed and built her own lego leg – Cool! You can watch how she does this in her time-lapse video that went viral this past summer –
Personalized prosthetics serve many purposes beyond function – not only can they get people where they need to go, they do so with style, with fun, with flare, and yes with FASHION. Check out the ‘alternative limb project’ where consumers are participants in the design process selecting pieces that either “blend in with the body or stand out as unique pieces of art, reflecting the wearers imagination, personality, and interests”.
Personalized prosthetics, like personalized mobility devices, not only delight the eye, they help to break down social barriers by promoting conversation, admiration and interest.
Now here’s a COOL design for those HOT summer days! Mobi-mats are lightweight, durable, portable mats that can be rolled out onto sandy beaches making them accessible to wheelchairs, walkers, canes and strollers.
Mobi-mats in action at Rockaway Beach NYC
These mats are being used on beaches around the world including Rockaway Beach in New York and beaches in Rio de Janeiro.
Recently, Wasaga Beach just outside of Toronto purchased some mobi-mats making their beach one of the most accessible in the province. CBC Metro Morning interviewed town clerk Twyla Nicholson about the town councils decision to purchase the mats, and the impact its having on residents and visitors to the beach.
Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch pushes Frank Nunnaro, Wasaga Beach resident and Accessibility Advisory Committee member, down the new Mobi-mats towards the water at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, July 11, 2013
These inventions are incredible! Why? Because they are based on lived experiences (like old age) and needs (like the need to get out of a building fast). Because they function so well for the places and activities of daily life. AND because they are so beautiful! The combination wheelchair foldable bike is genius (exercise for the caregiver)! And who doesn’t want (need) a bike that is able to carry us over water as well as land as we commute to work? And that evacuation slide? It’s a work of art! Wouldn’t it be awesome in the MOMA?
83-year-old Zhang Yongqing shows off his invention, a combination of a wheelchair and foldable bicycle. Zhang said he invented the multifunctional bicycle so that care-givers can take better care of wheelchair-bound elderly people.
Lei Zhiqian rides a modified bicycle across the Hanjiang River. The bicycle, equipped with eight empty water containers at the bottom, was modified by Lei’s instructor Li Weiguo, who hopes to put his invention into the market.
70-year-old inventor Zhou Miaorong tries out an evacuation slide he built himself in a building in Shanghai,. Zhou took over two years to design and build the mechanical slide which uses no electricity to implement in a domino effect, while also triggering a sprinkler system to fight a fire.
This start up has ALL the right ideas! Scaffolding is not only UGLY, it creates significant barriers for people with mobility challenges including older folks, people with disabilities and parents with strollers. I lived in NYC for 5 years and would avoid sidewalks lined with scaffolding whenever possible because it was so unpleasant and felt even scary and dangerous sometimes. Resting places like these are essential for those of us who can’t quite ‘make it all the way’ and health-promoting for all of us as they provide opportunities for social interaction. Way to go SOFTWALKS!
German bike designer Dieter “Didi” Senft, aka El Diabolo during the Tour de France, presents his latest bicycle invention, the so-called ‘111-twelve-teeth-rake-bicycle’ in Storkow, Germany on March 12, 2012. The bicycle is made of 111 garden rakes.
Cyclists wear costumes on the 13th Tour of the Fireflies in Pasig, Philippines on April 17, 2011. The event aimed to promote environmental awareness and push bicycle riding as a means to minimize pollution
Check out Lane Turners amazing collection of photographs from around the world that celebrate the bike and those that imagine, build and ride them. “Gathered here are images of people around the world as we pedal for a reason, or just because. — Lane Turner (49 photos total)”