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Sue Austin: Deep sea diving … in a wheelchair
When Sue Austin got a power chair 16 years ago, she felt a tremendous sense of freedom — yet others looked at her as though she had lost something. In her art, she aims to convey the spirit of wonder she feels wheeling through the world. Includes thrilling footage of an underwater wheelchair that lets her explore ocean beds, drifting through schools of fish, floating free in 360 degrees. (Filmed at TEDxWomen.)
In repurposing her wheelchair to create fantastical art, Sue Austin reshapes how we think about disability.
WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HER?
Multimedia, performance and installation artist Sue Austin keeps a fascinating mission at the center her work: to challenge the idea of disabled as “other” and represent her experience as a wheelchair user in a brighter light. She does this by creating quirky, unexpected juxtapositions — bringing a sense of whimsy and empowerment to the discussion of disability.
Austin is the founder and artistic director of Freewheeling, an initiative aiming to further the genre of Disability Arts. In 2012, she was asked to be a part of the Cultural Olympiad in Britain, a celebration of the arts leading up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The work she created for the event, called “Creating the Spectacle!,” is a groundbreaking series of live art and video works of an underwater wheelchair.
“Like the athletes at the Paralympics, disabled artist Sue Austin is working to redefine the popular notion of disability. This week, she has been amazing spectators with a specially equipped wheelchair that lets her fly underwater.” PRI’s The World