What I appreciate the most about the University of Michigan is its multidisciplinary approach to design. During the semester, I was fortunate enough to explore my passions of accessible design through my courses. With the encouragement of the professors, we attended the Stamps Speaker Series, which highlights diverse artists from around the world. One of the artists featured was Mari Katayama with her lecture on “My Body as Material”. Mari is a Japanese artist that combines photography, textiles, and sculptures to produce work that reflects her own body. Born with a developmental condition, she has two fingers on one of her hands and both of her legs were amputated at the age of nine and she has worn prosthetics since then.
Through the objectification of her own body, she explores societies ideas of beauty and tries to expose the anxieties that we all face. Disabled or not, her work is a reflection of self-empowerment. She is able to use her physical self to bring attention to larger social issues in the age of social media. The vulnerability that she brings into her work is something that I aspire to do in my own. Through the accessibility team at the Shapiro Design Lab, I am able to work towards making the university more accessible through design. Mari Katayama has taught me to look inwards at myself to see how I can bring about change within my own passions.
To see Mari Katayama’s work in person, visit the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) from October 12, 2019 - January 26, 2020 in the Irving Stenn, Jr. Family Gallery.