Newswise — Sara Hendren an artist, designer and researcher in residence at Olin College has been named the inaugural Anne McNiff Tatlock Fellow in multidisciplinary studies at Vassar College. The flexible residency is designed to help strengthen and deepen the engagement of faculty within Vassar’s multidisciplinary programs. 

Hendren will visit Vassar on a monthly basis throughout the spring semester. Her visits began in January with a campus-wide lecture.  She will also be convening a faculty seminar on critical disability studies, engaging with the community in and outside of classes; as well as collaborating on a new urban studies course at Vassar called Design, Disability and the Demos: Critical Access Studies and the Right to the City.

Lisa Brawley, the Vassar Anne McNiff Tatlock Chair of Multidisciplinary Studies, had invited Sara to speak at Vassar and lead a pedagogical workshop more than a year ago, which sparked the idea of Hendren serving as the inaugural Tatlock Fellow. 

Brawley added that Hendren’s work takes place at a number of intersections that are a focus of the fellowship: design and critical disability studies; art and engineering; inquiry and activism; problem-solving and problem-finding.

A key goal of the Anne McNiff Tatlock Fellowship is to inspire and support faculty engagement with existing and emerging areas of interdisciplinary inquiry at the college. Critical disability studies is one of these emerging areas. 

Brawley said, “Sara is also such a generous and generative thinker: she models a way of working that—at its best—forms the heart of thriving interdisciplinary inquiry. We’re delighted that she is working with us this semester.”

The Anne McNiff Tatlock Fellowship is available to scholars who are open to a full year residency, full semester or multiple visits throughout a semester. This flexibility is designed to enable to broader range of scholars to participate. 

“It's so exciting to be spending time at an institution like Vassar,” said Hendren. “The spirit of the community is open and inquiry-minded, and I've loved all my interactions with students and faculty alike. These kinds of positions have great potential for outsider-insider thinking and making together, especially when hosted by multidisciplinary domains.”   

Hendren was an Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America, the recipient of a Public Scholar grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a Logan Non-Fiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Global Good. Hendren is at work on her first book on the unexpected places where disability is at the heart of design, forthcoming from Riverhead/Penguin. Her work has been exhibited in the US and abroad and is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper Hewitt Museum.

At Olin, she is also the Principal Investigator for the Sketch Model initiative, funded by the Mellon Foundation, designed to bring three years of programming and partnerships with practitioner in the arts and humanities to Olin students and faculty.