Twenty years ago, the founders of Matheny’s Arts Access Program asked the question, “Can people with disabilities create fine art?” That question has been answered, and the answer is ‘yes’, said Eileen Murray, director of the program, while accepting an Excellence in the Arts Award from the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission and the Friends of Somerset County Culture & Heritage, Inc. The award, for Arts in the Community, was one of seven presented on October 24 at the Twin Brooks Country Club in Watchung, N.J.
Arts Access was nominated for the award by Karen Pinzolo, director of community engagement for Art Pride New Jersey. While introducing Murray, Pinzolo described Arts Access as an “amazing program, a national model,” adding that the art is “a celebration of life and the human spirit. I was blown away when I saw it, and you will be, too.”
Both Murray and Pinzolo invited members of the audience to attend Full Circle 2013 Reflections, the 20th anniversary of Arts Access, which will be held Saturday, November 2, in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center on the Matheny campus in Peapack. Two Arts Access artists, Cheryl Chapin and Yasin Reddick, attended the awards dinner, and a sample of their artwork was on display.
Arts Access makes it possible for people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators. In a short video shown at the dinner, Keith Garletts, Arts Access outreach coordinator and program specialist, listed the four principles of the program: freedom of choice, neutrality, no preconceptions and artists assisting artists.