Impulsive Art

Cindy Shanks is an active artist in Matheny’s Arts Access Program, which enables individuals with disabilities to fully express themselves in the creative arts. She spends several hours a week working on her paintings, choreography, dramatic work, and creative writing.

When she paints, Cindy likes to take risks. “I really like to paint,” she says, but “I usually don’t know what I want to do ahead of time. I figure it out that day.” Her painting style, she says, is about love and having fun, and she works on more than one painting at a time.  “As far as colors,” she adds, “I pick one and go from there. I choose them based on how I’m feeling.  When people look at my paintings, I want them to really look at them.  When people see my work, I want them to feel good.” Her work has been displayed at such venues as Rutgers University, Johnson and Johnson, the Monmouth Museum, and the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Center.

aa umdnj cindy painting

Cindy Shanks in front of one of her paintings at a Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School exhibit.

Cindy is one of 10 participating artists in the first Arts Garden CSA, a Community Supported Arts Program that connects emerging artists with disabilities and local art collectors.  Art Garden CSA is a collaboration between Arts Access and Arts Unbound and is made possible by a grant from the Kessler Foundation.  The local artists are each given a stipend of $1,000. Each artist is required to create 25 pieces of art for the program. These can range from paintings, jewelry, small sculptures, wearable art, photography, and more. The “community” is comprised of any individual or group that purchases one of the 25 available shares. They pay $500 for each share and, in return, receive 10 pieces of art – one from each artist. The buyers will receive their art at two “pick-up” events during the year where they can meet the artists and establish relationships. Shares can be purchased through the Art Garden website at