Emily Barker's Work Champions Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Emily Barker at her exhibition "Built to Scale" at Murmurs gallery, Los Angeles (photo by Svet Jacqueline)

As part of its "Meet LA's Art Community" series, Hyperallergic recently interviewed Emily Barker (SAIC 2010-15) about their advocacy for environments that are accessible, affordable, and beautiful for people with disabilities. Barker has complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and regularly encounters hostile spaces for wheelchair users in the form of natural elements, cobbled sidewalks, and public bathrooms. Their solo exhibition earlier this year, Built to Scale, which opened at Murmurs in downtown Los Angeles, supersized everyday household utilities––carpeted rugs, wall outlets, kitchen cabinets––making them inaccessible, or unusable, to everyone, showing how for many disabled people, the "every day" can be a trap. As Barker commented, "creating a standard [of living] means someone like me deviates from and is oppressed by it." Barker's current project is to expose housing rights issues for disabled people, and "show people that we can live affordably and beautifully without any of the negative aesthetic stereotypes or the incredible cost typically associated with accessibility."