Sara Hendren is an artist, design researcher, and writer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her work includes social design projects, graphic arts, and mixed media collaborations that engage technology and the human body. Combining disability studies, speculative research, and critical design, her practice is a restless mix of engineering and the arts in pursuit of sharper questions about human capacity, worth, and interdependence. In 2017, she is an Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America and the recipient of a Public Scholar grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of her first book, on the unexpected places where disability is at the heart of design, forthcoming from Riverhead/Penguin. At Olin College, she is an Artist, Designer, and Researcher in Residence, where she is Principal Investigator on a three-year initiative to bring arts experiences to engineering students and faculty, funded by the Mellon Foundation. Her work has been exhibited in the US and abroad and is held in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.
This video of my keynote at Eyeo 2015 captures my last ten years of work pretty well. CC available. Version with audio description is here.
Here’s a portfolio of current work and CV, or read on below.
With Olin College students, I’m launching the Adaptation + Ability Group, a lab for making adaptive and assistive tools with client-collaborators: some for solving problems, if they’re identified as such, and some for asking questions. A technical and social lab, all at once. Posts about that effort are
See also my course that is housed in the lab’s efforts, Investigating Normal.
I’m designing ramps for skateboarders and wheelchair users and generally obsessing about the inclined plane, one of Galileo’s simple machines, over at Slope : Intercept.
I’m a co-founder of the Accessible Icon Project, a guerilla street art campaign that has become a social design project in partnership with Triangle, Inc.
With my colleague, Caitrin Lynch, I’ve been documenting Engineering At Home: an unusual engineering archive that makes an argument for a robust definition of assistive technology.
some things I’ve written:
All Technology is Assistive. Medium
An Ethics for the Future of Genetic Testing. The Atlantic Tech
The White Cane as Technology. The Atlantic Tech
An Icon is a Verb. The Noun Project
Toward an Ethics of Estrangement. Organs Everywhere
interviews and profiles:
“The Body Adaptive: Sara Hendren,” Guernica, February 2017
“Interview with Sara Hendren” Looking Sideways podcast, 2016
“Why Are Wheelchairs More Stigmatized Than Glasses?” Nautilus, 2016
“Icon for Access.” 99% Invisible, 2014
“Why Are Glasses Perceived Differently than Hearing Aids?” The Atlantic Tech, 2013
“Pretty Ramp Machine.” Medium, Weird Future, 2013.
“Inside the Prosthetic Imaginary: An Interview with Sara Hendren.” Rhizome, 2012
talks: upcoming and recent:
Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought, The New School for Social Research, March 2017
Carnegie Mellon University, Design the Future lecture series, March 2017
Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series, University of Michigan, February 2017
Caltech, Art + Technology lecture series, May 2016
Northeastern University, Understanding Design series, November 2015
NYU Ability Lab, October 2015
Wesleyan University, in conversation with Luke Dubois, October 2015
I live with my husband and three children in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In a tiny apartment. Life’s messy. Everything changes. But do please get in touch via the contact page.