This is Sara Hedren, an artist, an activist and another spiritual offspring of Gorilla Grrls.
Sara has set her talents, her craft and her heart upon changing the static icon that represents (and circumscribes) individuals with physical disabilities.
“It’s so familiar, it has the invisibility of the obvious,’’ said Hendren, who is trying to change that with a street art project that is popping up — illegally — throughout the area.
In an era when even the most mundane objects are given obsessive attention from designers, Hendren said she believes the International Symbol of Access, as it is formally known, is long overdue for a makeover. The design, which is more than 40 years old, represents dated views of persons with disabilities, she said, and lacks the life of even the most basic stick-figure pictograms, such as the pedestrian walk signal.
“The figure is static, wooden, with the squared-off geometry of machinery. The body is synonymous with the chair,’’ and creates the impression of someone who needs a push to get through the world, said the 37-year-old artist and mother of three small children who lives in Cambridge. “It is almost completely unexamined, yet it is a design with human values at stake.’’
Hendren has created stickers that feature her own design — the symbol looks more like a person in a wheelchair race — and she is placing that sticker over the current symbol. Her goal is not to replace the symbol but to evolve it, she said. Her stickers are intentionally transparent so that they call attention not just to themselves, but also the old image underneath.[...]
Hendren said she is not a designer or a policy maker, but an artist, and the real goal of her guerrilla campaign is to raise questions about the symbol, not propose answers.
“There’s a much bigger question to ask about who is abled and who is disabled and what we think about dependence and need,’’ she said. “I’m just trying to start a discussion where we reevaluate our assumptions and our attitudes.’’
Yeah! You go, grrrl!