Thursday, November 13, 2014


Emily was also featured in print in the Chicago Reader last summer. Read her story below:

Hot Wheels

It felt like tumbling into a bottomless, pitch-dark abyss, Emily Barker says. The multimedia artist and School of the Art Institute student was among friends at a summer-night rooftop gathering two years ago when a poorly constructed skylight she stepped onto gave way and she fell three stories. The largest vertebrae in her spine turned to powder, but the accident didn’t sever her spinal cord. Doctors gave her a 1 percent chance of walking again. The 22-year-old also suffers from neuropathy, constant, often excruciating pain caused by the severe nerve damage. But her sunny attitude doesn’t betray her discomfort. Plus, in her $8 thrifted outfit, she looks stunning, like a siren on wheels. “I don’t think being in a wheelchair should make anyone feel less beautiful,” she says. Barker is currently inspired by, a fashion and fitness website created by some of her peers. She’s also starting her own lifestyle blog,, and just started saving for a lighter wheelchair. Her insurance won’t replace the bulky 30-pounder she’s currently using, so she’s raising funds at 

—Isa Giallorenzo
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