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Local Organizations Turn Passions Into A Profession For Artists With Disabilities

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Cindy is a CSA Art Garden Year 1 artist. She's seen here with Heather Williams, Performing Arts Coordinator, Matheny Arts Access
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Kevin is a current CSA Art Garden artist and participates in the Arts Access Program in the Hillsborough facility.
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Josh is a current CSA Art Garden Artist who participates in the Arts Access Program in the Hillsborough facility.
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News from Matheny

Community based vocational programs are helping emerging artists launch their professional art careers

Two forward-thinking NJ non-profits, the Matheny Arts Access Program and Arts Unbound, are proud to announce the start of the second season of Art Garden CSA (Community Supported Art). Both organizations support and serve artists with disabilities, and have collaborated to bring this unique project to reality. The innovative Art Garden connects these artists with the local community, and works to further the professional art careers of the talented artists who participate.

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Art CSAs are based on the traditional agriculture CSA model, in which a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. The “shareholder” receives a box of seasonal produce at pickup events throughout the year.

Substitute “art” for “agriculture,” and you have Art Garden CSA, with shareholders receiving original artwork instead of farm produce. This program is unique in that it is the only CSA which serves and supports artists with disabilities, enabling them to cultivate relationships with art buyers, whose purchases help support and sustain the artist’s career.

"Our Art Garden CSA will help local artists with disabilities launch their professional careers with the hope that they could become self-supporting through the sale of their art,” said

Celene Ryan, Director of Artist Development at Arts Unbound.  “It’s a powerful dynamic because when the buyers meet the artists and receive their artwork, it dispels any misperceptions about the range, sophistication and quality of art created by people with disabilities.” 

Following a successful, sold out first season, 10 new local artists with disabilities have been selected and will receive a stipend of $2,000 to create 50 pieces of original or limited edition fine art for the Art Garden. Last year, the work ranged from paintings, jewelry, wearable art, and photography. This year’s group of artists promises to deliver equally exciting, innovative work to their shareholder community. The “community” is comprised of any individual or group that purchases one of the 50 available shares. New this year, both half and full shares are available at an affordable price of $225 and $450 respectively. The shareholders will receive their art at two "pick-up" events during the year where they can meet and mingle with the artists.

Eileen Murray, Director of the Arts Access Program, says, “This program puts us at the forefront of an entirely new way of connecting artists with patrons and making original art accessible to first-time buyers. What makes Art Garden CSA so special though, is that not only are you buying outstanding art, every share purchased helps a talented artist with a disability move one step closer towards making a living as a professional artist. Your purchase also goes towards providing training to help our artists develop the entrepreneurial skills, like building a website, promoting their art and nurturing relationships, that will help them succeed in their careers.””

Year one artist Cindy Shanks said, "I was excited and happy to have my work as part of the Art Garden. It meant that people bought my art." The Art Garden CSA team works to help artists like Cindy turn their passion into a profession one share at a time.

Art Garden CSA is made possible by a generous Community Employment Grant from the Kessler Foundation.

For more information about the Art Garden and to purchase shares, please visit the website: http://www.artgardencsa.org.

Matheny Arts Access empowers individuals with disabilities to create art without boundaries. Through the use of innovative systems and techniques, participants can fully participate in the visual, performing and literary arts. Regardless of their disability, clients are provided with the tools and materials needed to take full creative control over their artistic journey. 

Arts Access provides clients with a nurturing environment for expression; a chance to interact with other artists; and an opportunity for performance and exhibition. This program is a vehicle through which disabled individuals can have their ideas; imagination and creativity come to life. www.artsaccessprogram.org.

Arts Unbound is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the artistic achievement of people living with disabilities and seniors. They provide visual arts education and professional development to help emerging artists compete on the retail market.  They work with learning and emerging artists with disabilities and seniors through the two core programs: visual arts education and artist development. By promoting the work of artists with disabilities and seniors, Arts Unbound centers on their art-making rather than any impairments, and by doing so, challenges the stigma associated with disability and aging. www.artsunbound.org.

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