MFA Thesis: Changing Positions
Most able bodied people engage in their daily routine unaware of the relative ease of moving through their physical environments. Standard furniture and architectural forms are designed to facilitate the comfort and productivity of typically shaped and typically equipped people in their home or work environment. However, not everybody’s needs are met by these standard specifications. After losing my leg in a motorcycle accident, my awareness of this inequitable reality was sharpened considerably.
Due in part to my personal circumstance, I developed a strong interest in how physical differences preclude some individuals from fully engaging in functional and joyful activities. In pursuit of this objective, I am exploring the power inherent in furniture design to restore an individual’s physical functionality, sense of independence and fuller inclusion in meaningful work and social engagement. I draw on my own personal history, and build works relevant to my experience of adaptation and acceptance.
My current body of work communicates a sense of my original physical trauma and subsequent loss of function, as well as shares my process of emotional and physical healing. These pieces are about being functional and comfortable over the course of a regular day and address the common physical actions of walking, sitting, and confronting stairs. The adaptive objects also represent the psychological effects of personal injury and limited mobility, and the subsequent need for physical and emotional stability.
These pieces show various means of adaptation by using familiar furniture types morphed by circumstance and necessity. The aesthetic languages of furniture, tools, architecture, and prosthetics are combined and transformed into hybrid objects that suggest solutions that better facilitate these common actions. I utilize the anthropomorphic qualities inherent in furniture to abstract the destruction some people have sustained to their bodies. It is my hope that by addressing our physical differences and by appreciating the needs of people with lesser physical ability, the landscape of objects and architecture can be made more accommodating. My work affirms the rights of unique persons to fully realize a participatory and purposeful life.