When I was 13 years old, I began to use my first wheelchair. At the time, I knew very few other people who used one, and even fewer that were my age. I was fortunate enough to become close friends with another young woman who also used a wheelchair, and one day as we were dreaming up our wedding days (as young girls do), she told me that for her wedding, she hoped to completely cover her wheelchair in flowers to hide its appearance.
My recent work demonstrates an interest in how we conceal and reveal aspects of our identities, specifically through signifiers of disability — in this piece, I reflected on this comment which had lingered on my mind for so many years, and explored the image through creating it. I then began an investigation of a new way to represent disability in conversation with the symbols, colors, and gestures of classical art, where positive representations of disability are largely absent. I became interested in how this image visually juxtaposes man-made, heavy machinery — which, I found through my own experience and that of others, is something we wish to hide — with something delicate and organic, like flowers — which often symbolize beauty and the natural world. The goal of repurposing my first wheelchair for a wedding transitioned to an investigation of how a chair in a pre-industrial age might be imagined and incorporated — had Ophelia used a wheelchair, what might her chair left in the woods look like as it became overgrown?