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Every Day Every Body: Disability Exhibition

every day every body
illustration, exhibit design

Jan - June 2019

“Every Day Every Body” is a pop-up exhibit that explores everyday objects and tech whose history ties them to disability in some way. This project is an attempt at elevating disabled voices and innovations, since disabled folks’ contributions to (an overwhelmingly able-bodied) society have historically been erased.

This project was the final product of an independent study I conducted, with the goal of creating an exhibition on how disability intersects with design history.


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01: RESEARCH

Before even thinking about my exhibit design, I had to get a solid grasp on the information I wanted my exhibit to present. To form a deeper understanding about the intersections of disability, design, and history, I mainly used Aimi Hamraie’s “Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability,” with supporting literature from Liz Jackson and Sins Invalid. From this research, I found three (3) specific topics of interest that I would narrow down into a thesis statement later.

 
 
 
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02: interviews

Because this was my first ever exhibition, I conducted several informational interviews with experts in the field to help guide me through the process of designing an effective exhibition and give me a better idea of what direction I wanted to take it. I interviewed Tim McNeil, Emma Thorne-Christy, and Adam Flint. Here are my key takeaways from those conversations!

 
 
 
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03: case studies

I took the information I gathered from all my interviewees to take a deeper look into some of my favorite exhibits and discover how they captured the attention of viewers and engaged them deeply with the content.

 
 
 
 

04: brainstorms

Now that I had all this information about the intersections of design, disability, and history, as well as advice and inspiration from professional exhibit designers, I had to make a decision on three (3) things:

 
 

What purpose will my exhibit serve? What will people get out of it?

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What concepts do I want to include in my exhibition?

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What elements do I want to use to portray these concepts?

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This step in my process took the longest amount of time (filled with copious amounts of tears, sweat, and frustration). I fleshed out and scrapped numerous exhibition ideas in an attempt to glue all the information in my head with my vision of what a truly great exhibition should be.

 
 

05: sketches & prototypes

 
 
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06: final product!

 
 

PROBLEM

The Principles of Universal Design push for accessibility and inclusion within design, yet don’t make space for disabled folks to be part of the design process. The knowledge we bring to the table isn’t normally valued, and when it is, it’s only because our knowledge is useful for able-bodied folks. Additionally, because Universal Design strives to be “neutral,” the disabled nature of our work is never acknowledged. How do we privilege disabled knowledge without erasing the people behind that knowledge? 

SOLUTION

Bring awareness to the invisibility of disabled voices in design/tech/innovation!

  1. By showcasing inventions by disabled people that are now widely used by able-bodied people

  2. & vice versa, inventions by able-bodied people that have been modified for disabled purposes

 
 
 

exhibition elements

  • 4 technologies represented by. . .

  • 4 trifold brochures within. . .

  • 4 backpacks supplemented by. . .

  • 4 free prints for exhibition viewers to remember the exhibit by!

 
 
 
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branding

 
 
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exhibition photos!

 
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bonus!!!

 
 
 

07: reflection

What went smoothly?

  • Brainstorming-I had so many ideas and endless google docs, notes, & sketches to contain them

  • Visual design-Illustration has been my strong suit for a while & ended up being a really good design choice for this project!

What was challenging? 

  • Narrowing down-which applied to both my research (fitting it into a concise thesis statement) and my visual design (cutting out unrealistic concepts & elements)

  • Visually conveying research in a way that could be easily & quickly understood but also remain informational 

  • Ensuring the exhibition could be a learning experience for a broad range of viewers (general viewers with limited knowledge, viewers familiar with social justice issues but not necessarily design, and vice versa)

  • Time constraints, especially because of the time consuming nature of physically constructing multiple backpacks 

WHAT WOULD I CHANGE?

  • Prototype & feedback-I would’ve liked to test out parts of my exhibit while I was developing it to work out the kinks before the final execution

  • Range of elements-I would’ve liked to add additional elements that catered to specific audiences (ex. viewers familiar with disability but not design, viewers familiar with design but not disability) instead of a “one-size-fits-all” exhibit 

  • Minor visual details-for example, color matching the printed canvas labels with the fabric of the backpack and creating a convenient pocket inside the backpack for the prints so that viewers wouldn’t have had to fumble with an envelope