Sarah Muehlbauer is one of nine inaugural winners of the Midwest Award for Artists with Disabilities. This award, designed to support accessibility in the arts and celebrate the exceptional work of disabled Midwestern visual artists, has received an incredible response from the artistic community. Over 200 artists applied to receive funds, and a panel of seven reviewers narrowed the pool to nine finalists from across the Midwest.
“My purpose through art is to reveal the hidden poetics and wisdom of living in a chronically ill body. I explore care-taking for self and others, topics of pain, death, and dying that cause fear and avoidance in our culture. I use art to emphasize the beauty, the play, and the accessibility around these topics, so that they might be seen in a way our culture does not yet know or accept. My most recent work has been for an ongoing dream archetype deck and guidebook project that I hope to publish in 2024. I also recently produced a zine combining disability justice + art + writing, called “Freedom and Possession”, meditations on embodiment from a chronic illness lens. I have worked deeply with performance and circus over the last 15 + years, using it to portray dynamic physical experience, to challenge viewers’ expectations of disability, and to offer a visually compelling language that affects audiences in an intuitive, visceral way. While my disability limits my energy, I have 30+ years of cumulative body knowledge in gymnastics, yoga, dance, and aerial arts, and artistic strategies that allow me to perform at a high level within my physical limits.“