Where some people see limitation, others see beauty. One of the most inspiring examples of this I’ve ever seen is the British artist Sue Austin and her creation of art with her wheelchair.
Austin has used a wheelchair since 1996 after an extended illness took her ability to walk. But instead of letting her circumstances slow her down, she now uses her chair to explore an entirely new frontier of visual art. And the results are pretty amazing.
Austin first got the idea of scuba diving with her wheelchair in 2005, but when she started talking to engineers about how to do it, all of them told her it was impossible. Instead of listening to them, Austin created her very own underwater wheelchair that gives her 360-degree mobility. She now films herself diving in her chair, creating mesmerizing videos of herself drifting through the blue oblivion.
The cool thing about this visual artwork is that it’s so much more than something beautiful to watch. It’s completely changing the way people think about disability and wheelchairs, and for Austin that’s the most exciting aspect of her art. In her own words:
“I think that moment of completely new thought perhaps creates a freedom that spreads to the rest of other people’s lives. For me, this means that they’re seeing the value of difference, the joy it brings when instead of focusing on loss or limitation, we see and discover the power and joy of seeing the world from exciting new perspectives. For me, the wheelchair becomes a vehicle for transformation. In fact, I now call the underwater wheelchair “Portal,” because it’s literally pushed me through into a new way of being.”
Check out Austin’s Ted Talk to hear more about her journey and see some hauntingly beautiful footage of her Portal underwater wheelchair . . .