about sara hendren


short version:

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.

Eyeo 2015 – Sara Hendren from Eyeo Festival // INSTINT on Vimeo.

some projects:

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

studio / lab / workshop and

guiding principles for an adaptive technology working group.

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

“Assistive Technologies and Design: An Interview with Sara Hendren.” Superflux, 2014

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

Eyeo Festival, keynotes in 2016 and 2015

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


Full CV is here. Portfolio here.

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.


11 thoughts on “about sara hendren

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