Nov 21, 2023

new stuff

A couple of updates: 1) My reported piece on a radically imaginative partnership between professional artists and adults in a day center outside Edinburgh is up at Harper’s now, and in print in the December issue:

“Why not try chaos?” asked the artist Lauren Gault, her arms full of boxes and fabric, as she led me to a simple white cube of a room. The room was tucked into the back of the Cherry Road Learning Centre, a sunny building in Bonnyrigg, near Edinburgh. Lauren and Hailey Beavis, a musician, were a little breathless and pink-faced, busy readying stage materials, many of them strung up on wires that sliced the room—enormous lengths of black-and-white silk, oversize balloons, leis and beads, gold plastic fringe. At the room’s perimeter were a document camera, lava lamp projectors, beanbag chairs, microphones, and elaborate costumes, a stockpile at the ready before they began. Before they began—how to describe it? They raided a nearby closet for other possible materials, pulling out a giant mirror and some cups. Then Lauren switched on a fog machine while Hailey turned off the overhead lights and dialed up the big ambient bass. The room filled with the effect of dry ice. I asked her who she had in mind. “We have a couple of singing divas,” she said. “A magician. A Kate Bush fan.”

laura a in workshop.jpg

[a scene in sensory workshop shows a darkened room, artist Laura Aldridge holding a translucent sparkling light, and two onlookers]

And 2) my interview with Krista Tippett on On Being is here.

I think the standard question is, “How do we make this accessible?” And what people mean is, “How can we make a bigger tent of a world and quote not forget people who are using wheelchairs, or walkers, or crutches, or all those mobility aids or perhaps a navigational cane or any number of things.”

But, what I try to do in the book is to say: I don’t really think making a bigger tent is really quite the right metaphor here. Because people with disabilities have been way out in front in actually reinventing and re-imagining the built world in so many ways. So, in other words, instead of that, let’s make a bigger tent and not forget, I’d rather you see this rich kind of estuary, this incredible ecosystem of remaking the world in artifacts that make more bodies more expressed and more able to get into the world. And more richly varied! I am trying to say: if you pause and look, your wonder might be activated by this incredible flesh envelope that’s making its way through the world. Its inherent adaptation.