Laura Brody: Wheelchair Art

May 29, 2017

HP: “Wheelchair art” – what does that mean?

Laura Brody: I take old wheelchairs, walkers, and mobility scooters and re-imagine them as sculptural works of art. I’ve been calling it “mobility art”, and it’s about new ways of looking at mobility and disability.

I started paying serious attention to disability devices after a former partner had a stroke. I was fascinated by the devices that help people out, like wheelchairs and walkers, and the things that help you pull your socks up or hold your veggies safely on a cutting board. But I was surprised at how impersonal and clinical they were. They were almost insultingly ugly with almost no variation in design. I figured there had to be a better way, and I started coming up with my own designs.

HP: Would you share your background, personally and artistically?

Laura: I’m from Fairbanks, Alaska, where people are big fans of making things yourself from whatever you have around.

I have 30 years of experience as a professional costume maker, craftsperson, and designer. I love the history of art and social practice. I am also passionate about re-use, and all of my work is based on used and re-purposed materials. For me, mobility art is the logical progression of my years of work and study. I make costumes and characters for these vehicles that are usually overlooked.


Drew Nachreimer modeling Laura Brody’s “The Firebird”; photo by Stephanie Shanks.


HP: Any particular aim/theme when creating your wheelchair art? 

Laura: Each piece has a different story, character, and time period…

—The Jazzy Peacock is Art Nouveau inspired, based on Alphonse Muscha’s designs. It is “proud as a peacock”.


The Jazzy Peacock Scooter by Laura Brody; photo by Heidi Marie Photography.


—Le Flaneur is Victorian with a splash of steampunk, and is based on the idea of the flaneur, a 19th century literary type who strolled the streets of Paris. For the flaneur, the destination didn’t matter. It was all about the style in which you got there!


Le Flaneur by Laura Brody; photo by Heidi Marie Photography.


—The Nebula was inspired by Hubble telescope images of nebulas and whirlpool galaxies, but the fabric manipulation is straight out of old world ballet costume techniques.


Nebula Enthroned by Laura Brody; photo by Heidi Marie Photography.


—The Kali Walker, the most recent piece, is still in process. Her story will come.


The Kali Walker by Laura Brody; photo by Heidi Marie Photography.


HP: What is your favorite time of day and, if you have no prior commitments, what do you like to do with it?

Laura: Sunrise and early morning, which is funny. I never used to be a morning person. If I have the time, I have a ritual with watering the plants, making tea and coffee, doing my stretches, and taking the dog out for a walk in the hills. I’m also fond of taking sunset breaks.

HP: What’s your favorite vice?

Laura: Red wine and cheese. Mmmm.

HP: What’s your least favorite chore?

Laura: Least favorite chore is drying and putting away dishes. I’m not a big fan of toilet cleaning either, but who is?

HP: hat have your learned or experienced that has become a core life lesson or value that is essential to who you are and your life?

Laura: About 12 years back, I had some major life traumas and transitions that started me on a much more creative, fulfilling path. One of the main realizations I had then was simple but tough. It really hit home for me that I am not responsible for anyone else’s happiness- and no one else is responsible for mine. If I want something, I had better be willing to put in the effort to make it happen. If what I want doesn’t exist in the world or have a clear and simple path, well, that means it’s time for me to make that path.

HP: If you have a free day in Pasadena or anywhere in SGV. What’s a dream day for you?

Laura: I ran into a blank with the last question because there are too many options!


See more of Laura Brody’s wheelchair art at…

Dream By Machine


Laura Brody is participating in the spring Open Studios Tour, June 2-4 with 69 artists at 31 locations. Address: Brody Studio #1, 4545 Rising Hill Rd., Altadena 91001.

Spring Open Studios Tour
Opening Gala, Friday, June 2nd, 6-9 p.m.
Altadena Library, 600 E. Mariposa St., Altadena 91001
Free event

Open Studios self-tour Tour
Saturday & Sunday, June 3-4, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Locations throughout Altadena and parts of Pasadena

For complete details, visit


Laura is also a juror for the Opulent Mobility challenge and this is a call to all artists! Submission deadline is July 31, 2017. Find details at


Driven, the Edwardian Cyborg Wheelchair; photo by Heidi Marie Photography.





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