The Opulent Mobility project is a groundbreaking collaborative effort to re-imagine mobility, disability and access. Wheelchairs, walkers, prosthetics, crutches and other assistive technology devices are part of our lives, but theyâ€™ve been left in the dust when it comes to custom design innovation and personalization. There are hundreds of thousands of designs for glasses, chairs and technology of other kinds. Why not assistive technology?
The Opulent Mobility 2015 exhibition took place at California State University in September. The show was curated by Opulent Mobility's founder, A. Laura Brody with Anthony Tusler and Zeina Baltagi, and featured the work of 19 artists. To quote a few of those artists:
Katharine Sherwood's arresting mixed media on found linen work After Ingres was amongst the incredibly diverse range of works on display.
“A massive stroke affected my artistic practice. The paralysis that ensued forced me to switch hands and become a left-handed painter... This has had a profoundly liberating effect on my work... Many famous artists have had impairments that have not restricted them artistically such as Michelangelo’s Asperger’s syndrome; Goya’s deafness; Degas, Monet, and Matisse’s visual impairments; Toulouse Lautrec’s dwarfism; and Frida Kahlo’s spina bifida, polio, and trolley accident. We also do not need anyone’s pity for our conditions or to be solely defined by our medical condition.”
- Katherine Sherwood taken from: 'How a Cerebral Hemorrhage Altered My Art'
Ju Gosling was also one of the collaborators, contributing her striking black and white film from 2004, Opening Doors.
“As many as one in five of us may be disabled. It is highly unlikely that you will ever give a performance or lecture, or hold an event or exhibition, without substantial numbers of disabled people being part of your target audience… Most of us are likely to become disabled at some point in our lives; disability is not about ‘us and them’ but all of us.”
- Ju Gosling taken from ‘No Budget Guide for Artists to Disability Access’
Gini was another of the artists who contributed to the exhibtion with her whimsical works which reimagine famous paintings by inserting mobility equipment, Creating Freedom (2015) and Wheelborne Venus (2015).
"I submitted two pieces, both having a lot more to question about people's preconceptions than about actually redesigning the wheelchair. Although, for time traveling, they do have little gold wings… To my delight, they were both accepted by Opulent Mobility for exhibition… In one sense they are very personal, poking gentle fun at the ‘+ wheels = - brains’ guilt-frame I am frequently placed in - and at the irritating presumption that, as an artist, a female artist, I dabble, in a genteel manner, with paint."
- Gini taken from her DAO blog
The organisers are inviting ongoing collaboration.There are four ways for the community to get involved:
1. Submit your art and inventions dealing with mobility, disability and accessibility. Deadline for submissions is July 30th, 2016. Works will be exhibited in September 2016, venue TBD.
2. Invite Opulent Mobility over! Curator, artist and exhibit creator A. Laura Brody will share the work, explain the exhibit and answer your questions.
3. Let’s re-imagine mobility together! Host a DIY assistive technology workshop at your space. Bring in old walkers, crutches, wrist braces and even wheelchairs and A. Laura Brody will help you re-make them.
4. Build your own Opulent Mobility exhibit! Guidelines for mounting a show are posted on the Opulent Mobility website.