Skip to content
People  •  Art + Design, Architecture  •  Associate Professor

Sara Hendren

Sara Hendren is an Associate Professor in Art + Design with a joint appointment in the School of Architecture. Her book What Can A Body Do? How We Meet the Built World (Riverhead/Penguin Random House, 2020) explores the places where disability shows up in design at all scales: assistive technology, furniture, architecture, urban planning, and more. It was named one of the Best Books of 2020 by NPR, a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award, and won the 2021 Science in Society Journalism book prize.

Hendren’s art and design works have been exhibited on the White House lawn under the Obama presidency, at the Seoul Museum of Art, the Vitra Museum, the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, and many others. Her work is held in the permanent collections at MoMA (NYC), the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Cooper Hewitt Museum. She is the co-founder of the Accessible Icon Project, a free icon in the public domain that redesigned the International Symbol of Access. It has been included in many museum shows, official and informal signage, and is included in The Graphic Design Bible (Octopus, 2023). She currently holds a studio residency fellowship at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Hendren’s work has been supported by a Public Scholar grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, fellowships at the New America think tank, and grants and residencies from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Yaddo, the Graham Foundation, and the Carey Institute for Global Good. Her commentary and criticism have been published in Art in America, Harper’s, Wired, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere.

For nearly a decade at Olin College of Engineering, Hendren taught human-centered design and inclusive design for engineering students. She partnered with dancer Alice Sheppard, artist Carmen Papalia, curator and historian Amanda Cachia, and others on practical and discursive design projects that engage the politics of disability. While at Olin, Hendren was also the Principal Investigator for “Sketch Model — Integrating STEM Education with Arts and Humanities: Three Experimental Approaches,” a four-year grant that created artist residencies, student fellowships in the arts and humanities, and faculty and staff seed grants for collaborative projects. That effort was supported by the Mellon Foundation. Hendren created, hosted, and produced the Sketch Model podcast, a six-part conversation with scholars on the history and future of engineering education.


Art + Design, Architecture


  • MDes, Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • MA, Cultural and Intellectual History, UCLA
  • BA, Visual Arts, Wheaton College