People sometimes wonder what difference there could be between art created and performed by artists with developmental disabilities and those who are able-bodied. Over the course of my work as a facilitator with disabled artists, I’ve noticed that aside from infusing unique personal and life experiences into the work. . .the beauty, intensity, and integrity remains the same. Artists with developmental disabilities, however, also aren't afraid to take risks that often lead to unexpected results.
For example, take the art created by Chet Cheesman and Cheryl Chapin. Both attend the Hillsborough Adult Learning Center and are participants in Matheny Medical & Educational Center’s Arts Access Program in Peapack. Their work, which includes paintings, digital art, dance, and dramatic and poetic writings, reflects their artistic styles, personalities, and love for life.
A talented artist with an enthusiastic disposition and bright smile, Chet brings happiness to anyone he encounters. His written works reflect his imagination and love of romance as he takes on subjects that range from aliens in outer space to courtship. His artwork runs the gamut, from abstract to mystical. His pieces have been on display at the Atrium Gallery in Morristown, ABC headquarters, Grounds for Sculpture, UMDNJ, and the Bernardsville library. Several of his works are now in private collections.
Long time Hillsborough Adult Learning Center and Arts Access participant Cheryl Chapin was born and raised in New Jersey. She has been creating art for more than eighteen years. Her passion for reading and conversation is infectious. She also gets joy out of creating acrylic paintings and digital art. Cheryl has written many poems and other pieces of creative writing (about nature, holidays, etc.) that have been performed at Matheny and local high schools. Her work has also been shown at Grounds for Sculpture; the Wallace Art Gallery at Overlook Hospital in Summit; and Johnson & Johnson in Raritan. One of her pieces, titled Lights in a Far Off Galaxy, can currently be seen on a traffic box in Warren Township at the intersection of Mountain Avenue and Stirling Road.
Both Chet and Cheryl, along with several other artists, will have their written pieces showcased in Full Circle 2012: Unexpected Art. The annual fine, performing, and literary show will be presented by the Arts Access Program of the Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack on November 3, 2012.
Full Circle will dispel limitations and give the public the opportunity to experience the creations of developmentally disabled individuals. These works include everything from dance compositions and paintings to dramatic performances of written works. Artist Dan Fenelon, who has curated Full Circle for the past 3 years, will curate the multi-media fine art aspect of the show. He is a graduate of Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts and has created murals for the Luna Stage Theatre in West Orange, the Montclair Art Museum, and for the Newark Peace Education Summit which featured a visit by the Dalai Lama. This year’s Full Circle is dedicated to the memory of former Matheny President Robert Schonhorn.
Full Circle 2012: Unexpected Art will be held at the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center from 3-6pm. The Center is located at 65 Highland Avenue in Peapack, NJ 07977.