When a friend of artist Laura Brody had a stroke, Laura began to take notice of assistive devices: how brilliant and useful they are, and how almost insultingly ugly and impersonal. She thought I think I can make a better one. And she did. Thus began Opulent Mobility a website, movement, and exhibition of assistive devices transformed into objects of unique personal expression and beauty.
In her illuminating talk, Laura gets to the heart of what assistive devices secretly mean to many of us. It’s an essential four minutes. We’ve excerpted some of Laura’s words and artworks from her site, with links where you can read more about them. (Video link here.)
Kind of at the core it seems like people simply don’t want to deal with the fear that that might happen to them, so if you ignore it, maybe it will go away…
There is something about a wheelchair, or a walker or a prosthetic that is a reminder to other people of mortality. In a really weird way, it’s almost more about other people’s comfort that these aren’t being done. But that’s pretty crappy for the people using them. It’s not that hard to see that this can be you or anybody you know and instead of having it something we fear and look away from, it might be pretty cool if we turn it into something desirable, maybe even worthy of envy.
I would ask everybody to look at this and start taking it personally because it IS personal. It’s about your family, its about people you know and it might just be about you. And when you take this personally, you take some action instead of thinking it’s just about someone else.
To us the “actions” Laura references might be simply shifting our view of a person in a wheelchair or with a walker, to really them SEE them, and in doing so, to imagine their possibilities…
…or it might mean helping someone you know trick out their assistive device,
…or pressuring assistive device makers and insurance companies to devise more aesthetically pleasing offerings.
See more works of Opulent Mobility here. And we recommend googling “tricked out assistive devices” or “pimped out assistive devices” for more.
Top image Wheel Chair of Babel by Michael Garlington; Le Flaneur by Laura Brody’s renvisioning of a walker‘ Ornate prosthetic leg Patterns of the Land by Elisa Jane Carmichael;Cane with the Head of a Woman by Bill Brody