Emily Barker

Emily Barker

Los Angeles, California

Emily Barker received the Creative Capital Award in 2024. Emily Barker has most recently exhibited work in their solo show Wall Works at Sentiment Gallery in Zurich Switzerland, Body Politic at the Torrence Art Museum in California, Illusions of Care in Los Angeles at Carlye Packer, in the Whitney Museum of Art’s 2022 Biennial; and 2021 MMK exhibition Crip Time. Their beautifully minimal works bring to the foreground the insurmountable issues facing those who are disabled—i.e. how they cannot survive health insurance systems, or how austerity laws are designed to pillage and punish for life saving care—and society’s general devaluation of disabled people. Their work seeks to challenge the socially constructed, invisible norms in architecture, objects, mass production, health care, and interior space that reinforce perceptions of “normalcy,” exploring the relationship between objects and human beings, specifically addressing Barker’s persistent struggle with the inequities of our built environment and the estrangement that occurs when every inch of space becomes an obstacle in your everyday life. Simulating the experience of being trapped within a destabilizing, physically impossible built environment, their work offers a powerful commentary on the physical and psychic impact of architecture on our bodies and imaginations. They’ve given artist talks at MIT, The Royal College of Art and Design, Otis College of Art and Design, UCLA, and The Whitney Museum.

Moving Parts

Emily Barker (b. 1992, CA) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, Barker’s proprioceptive installations force a perspective into the exclusionary principles shaping our world.

Artist Bio

Moving parts: an alternative to an unjust status quo. Most ambulatory people are unaware how treacherous the world can be to wheelchair users, or assume accessibility is ugly and expensive, leaving many disabled people segregated from much of the world. This project bridges the gap in society’s ignorance regarding unmet access and housing needs of the world’s largest minority as well as real multi-use space centering the needs of wheelchair users. A mobile programmatic sculpture that serves as a community space, art studio, residency, and gallery all contained within a 270 square-foot travel trailer and inspired by the design of treehouses, Scandinavian boats, and the multifunctional spaces of traditional Japanese homes. The trailer has been thoughtfully designed to maximize accessibility, with wide doorways, gentle ramps, and a spacious layout that can accommodate what most spaces cannot. This means that wheelchair users will be able to exist with much more ease to co-create solutions to the inequities that they face. The project will begin as a fully functioning prototype, but the ultimate goal is to become one of many recreational vehicles located in an artist residency designed specifically for wheelchair users; an innovative aesthetic and practical effort that will make a real difference in the lives of disabled individuals. Providing a material alternative to inaccessible spaces, it will expand minds on ignored societal issues, support life by accommodating material needs, challenge the status quo, and eliminate stereotypes surrounding the feasibility and beauty of accessibility.

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