Two artists who expand our ideas about beauty, risk, mobility, and inclusion. Wheelchair dancer and esteemed choreographer Alice Sheppard, and MacArthur Genius Award-winning action architect Elizabeth Streb. What difference does art make? Should art-making be a human right? What will it take to disable the limits society puts around “normal”?
Changing the world through art and action. German playwright Bertolt Brecht once famously said that the artist’s job was not to reflect reality but to change it. Alice Sheppard is doing that in stunning ways, blowing open old ideas about bodies and disability and movement with her visceral performances that feature light, dance, and technology, including wheelchair technology and crutches. Sheppard, formerly a medieval studies professor, is now a choreographer, dancer, and the founder of Kinetic Light, an artistic collaboration with dancer technologist Laurel Lawson and lighting artist Michael Maag.
Staying with the topic of action, what is somewhere on your block let you move as you dream of moving, and taught you how to fly? That’s the lucky situation of people who live near SLAM, the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. SLAM is the homebase of action architect Elizabeth Streb, who believes everyone can fly in their fashion. The pursuit of flight changes people. It can even change a neighborhood.