Jessica Helfand + Sara Hendren | The Self-Reliance Project

On Ablerism

The Self-Reliance Project began as a daily essay about what it means to be a maker during a crisis—to think through making, to know yourself better through the process of producing something—and to consider that this kind of return to self-knowledge might just be the entire point. Inspired by the 1841 essay by the American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote with astonishing clarity about the perils of conformity and consistency, these essays look at new ways of framing studio practice as an act of creative independence.

But the essays are just the starting point for a new kind of dialogue—us with you, and you with yourself—because even and especially in a year such as this one, we know that at the core of all creative enterprise lies a singular, beating heart. What does it mean, right now, to be self-reliant—to trust your voice, heed your mind, and connect to your own sense of what really matters?

Sara Hendren is an artist, design researcher, writer, and professor at Olin College of Engineering. She is the author of What Can A Body Do? How We Meet the Built World. Her lab and projects include collaborative public art and social design that engages the human body, technology, and the politics of disability — things like a lectern for short stature or a ramp for wheelchair dancing. She also co-founded the Accessible Icon Project, co-created a digital archive of low-tech prosthetics, and has a long-running obsession with the inclined plane.

Jobs | July 12