An Evening with Artist Finnegan Shannon

Ellison Lecture Hall
Watson Fine Arts
Thursday, February 1, 2024, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Finnegan Shannon is a multidisciplinary artist whose work experiments with access and ableist assumptions. In this talk, they will share images of their past work, including the ongoing series Do You Want Us Here or Not. At Wheaton this semester, they will continue their ongoing exploration of Alt text as poetry and the expressive potential of image description. In an ongoing collaborative project with students, they will conceive and create a multisensorial seating area on campus in response to the photography of Félix González-Torres (1957-1996). After the talk, Beard and Weil Galleries will be open for students to talk to Finnegan and hear more about joining the project, alongside the current installation of González-Torres’s Untitled (L.A.). The project concludes two years of WIIH programming focusing on the theme Whose Normal?  

Presented by the Evelyn Danzig Haas ’39 Visiting Artists Program. 


Compassionate Flexibility: An Open Conversation About Syllabi Design

May Room, Mary Lyon Hall
Monday, February 20, 2023, 5–6 p.m.

Mental and physical health, for both students and faculty, are connected to the workload and intellectual labors we carry as a learning community. Syllabi are ideally designed to provide faculty and students with a roadmap and a clear set of guidelines to foster a productive, transparent working relationship. As we begin a new semester, student leaders and WIIH Fellows invite you to an open conversation reflecting on what is fair and equitable when it comes to expectations surrounding coursework. Are there ways we can think past the “either-or” fallacy of compassionate flexibility vs. intellectual rigor? Or of respect for difference vs. respect for the time and labor of others? Can we find more space in our demanding lives to calmly articulate the individual priorities and values that inform all faculty-student conversations throughout the semester? All are welcome.

Designing for Difference

A series of talks with innovative design leaders, thinkers and humanists, to celebrate the inauguration of Wheaton’s new Design program. Anchored in the History and Theory of Design course, this spring the WIIH asks students, staff, and faculty to challenge the concept of “normal” and reconsider what makes design inclusive.  All events are open to the public.

Presented by the Evelyn Danzig Haas ’39 Visiting Artists Program. Campus partners: Office of the Provost, Department of Visual Art and History of Art, Design Program, Wheaton College Office of the Arts, and Office of Accessibility Services.

Cyborg Arms and Robot Caregivers: Design For an Interdependent Future
Sara Hendren

Ellison Lecture Hall, Watson Fine Arts
Thursday, March 2, 2023, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Sara Hendren
Keynote Speaker, Designing for Difference 

Most people think about prosthetics in a posthuman future: novel tools and materials to augment the body and overcome its limitations. Or we think of inclusive or barrier-free design, efforts to make the built world accessible to people whose bodies fall outside the range of normal. But what if there’s a deeper invitation hidden in the built environment, clues that lie in all its shapes and sizes? Sara Hendren walks us through products, furniture, buildings, and city streets to locate the desirable forms of assistance that beckon all of us.

Sara Hendren is a humanist in tech—an artist, design researcher, writer, and professor at Olin College of Engineering. Her book What Can A Body Do? How We Meet the Built World explores the places where disability shows up in design at all scales: assistive technology, furniture, architecture, urban planning, and more. It was named one of the Best Books of 2020 by NPR and won the 2021 Science in Society Journalism book prize. Her art and design works have been exhibited in museums worldwide and are held in the permanent collections at MoMA and the Cooper Hewitt. In 2021-22, she was Lecturer in Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a fellow in Education Policy at the New America think tank, where she was researching the future of work for adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities.

Designing Motherhood: Curating Inside and Outside of Institutions
Image spread from Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births (MIT Press, 2021). Photo: Erik Gould. Image courtesy Designing Motherhood

Weber Theatre, Watson Fine Arts
Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at 6–7 p.m.

Michelle Millar Fisher
Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston & Co-Founder, Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Birth

The Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births project explores the arc of human reproduction through the lens of art and design. The exhibition, book, and associated programs demonstrate the evolution of rights and societal norms pertaining to con(tra)ception, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences over the last 150 years, highlighting that birth—and the material culture that surrounds it—impacts every living person.

Join Michelle Millar Fisher, co-founder of Designing Motherhood, to learn about a unique constellation of contemporary artists and designers whose work helps us ponder the political, economic, and social implications of how we all relate to reproduction. The project juxtaposes photography with product design, portraiture with maternity fashion, and much more, to create a rich consideration of activism and policy change, as well as reclaimed joy, body literacy, and reproductive agency.

Radical Visibility: A Queercrip Dress Reform Movement
Sky Cubacub, Founder, Rebirth Garments. Photo credit: Colectivo Multipolar

Ellison Lecture Hall, Watson Fine Arts
Wednesday, April 12, 2023, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Sky Cubacub
Founder and Creator of Rebirth Garments

Rebirth Garment’s mission is to create gender non-conforming wearables and accessories for people on the full spectrum of gender, size and ability. The line creates a community where all people can confidently express their individuality and identity. Trans and disabled communities have clothing needs not adequately served by mainstream clothing designers. Instead of being centered on cisgender, heterosexual, white, thin people, Rebirth Garments focuses on the needs of disabled queer lives, with an emphasis on radical visibility and joy.

Join multidisciplinary artist Sky Cubacub, who created Rebirth Garments in 2014. Sky is a non-binary xenogender and disabled Filipinx queer from Chicago. They were named 2018 Chicagoan of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, a 2019-2020 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist, and Disability Futures Fellow. Sky has recently shared their work at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Utah, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Northwestern University. Rebirth Garments has been featured in Teen Vogue, Nylon, Playboy, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Vice, Wussy Mag, and the New York Times.

Critical Access Studies

Aimi Hamraie, an olive-skinned Iranian person with short dark curly hair, smiles at the camera. They wear rectangular glasses and a blue button-up shirt. Behind them is a blurry blue background of blue curtains with white trees on them.

Join Zoom Event here.
Tuesday, April 18, 2023, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Aimi Hamraie
Associate Professor of Medicine, Health, & Society and American Studies
Vanderbilt University

Much of the literature about accessibility seeks to convince architects of the significance of inclusion. However, the field of Critical Access Studies has emerged in the last 10-15 years to raise additional questions of what counts as access, who benefits, and how designers can know. Hamraie will discuss some of the insights of Critical Access Studies that can better inform the theory and practice of accessible design.

Aimi Hamraie is Associate Professor of Medicine, Health, & Society and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, and director of the Critical Design Lab, a collaborative of disabled designers, artists, and researchers working within a disability culture framework. Hamraie is also the author of Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability. They are a recent appointee to the United States Access Board.

Watch the recording: Critical Access Studies (video)


Dominic Quagliozzi, Medical History (Part Two) 2014 performance. Photo by Evans Vestal Ward

Medical History (Part One)

A live performance by artist Dominic Quagliozzi
Thursday, Sept 29, 2022. 6 p.m.
Weber Theatre

Dominic Quagliozzi merges his lived experience as a person with chronic illness and disability into art. By repurposing and re-coding medical materials in art making, he explores the emotional and psychological space in moments of vulnerability, anxiety, fragility, and resilience. Medical History (Part One) is a live performance set in a loosely interpreted Operating Theater. It shares Quagliozzi’s questioning of time, the believability of his body, anxiety, and the voyeuristic nature of the hospital environment. Through the use of special effects makeup, the artist’s body will appear whole and untouched, while under the surface years of medical intervention and health trauma is ruminating. This first and singular performance at Wheaton is part of a journey that has evolved, devolved and revolved back again to some form of stability. Conceived as a continuation to his 2014 performance Medical History (Part Two), which confronted his physical deterioration and meditated on upcoming invasive surgical procedures, Part One carries the radical embodiment of resilience and adaptation, seeking to bridge the gaps between the two. The performance will be followed by a QA, led by RISD Museum curator Conor Moynihan, whose exhibition Variance: Making, Unmaking, and Remaking Disability on view through October 9, 2022 includes work by Quagliozzi.