How about this art installation at the Miami airport?

Nothing About Us Without Us. This statement could be applied to the struggles for justice faced by many communities, but it is most commonly linked to the disability rights movement.

I was at a presentation recently where the lecturer rephrased the language “nothing about us without us” to “nothing without us.” I could not agree with her more. People with disabilities are part of the community, the culture, and the society, so people with disabilities should be a part of the discussion when decisions are being made about the community, culture and society.

I fly a lot for work, and I have been following my colleague Ben Trockman’s advocacy about air travel and the need to improve travel conditions for individuals who use wheelchairs. I was in the Miami airport this week and happened to have glanced up to see an art installation: it was an airplane with a seating arrangement that utilized a wheelchair. I could not find any signage about this piece but thought it was great. A different seating arrangement could have been built in, but the artist chose a wheelchair. It made me think about that phrase again. Nothing Without Us.

One of the great things about art is that everybody can adopt their own interpretation of the message. My interpretation of this piece was this: people need to sit down when they fly a plane, and some people who fly planes are people with disabilities. It wasn’t some bold statement about people with disabilities traveling, there was just a reference to disability in the art.

So what do you think? I’d love to hear your interpretation of this piece—if you can find the time, please leave a comment here to let me know.


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  1. Patricia Wright Says:

    Carl – agreed! Perhaps we should see bringing your own chair on a flight as an asset versus a challenge to be “managed.”

  2. Carl Says:

    The way I see it, it seems pretty considerate that some people who fly bring their own chair.

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