18 Artists from Matheny's Arts Access Program Will Exhibit Their Works at Bedminster's Center for Contemporary Art
Amy Myers is well-known for her meticulous work as an artist in the Matheny Medical and Educational Center’s Arts Access Program, which provides individuals with disabilities the freedom to create in the visual, literary, and performing arts.
Michael Cornely often creates artwork that is lighthearted and comical and sometimes reflects his current life experiences and emotions.
Myers, who lives in Matheny’s community residence in Franklin Twp, NJ, and Cornely, who resides at Matheny’s main location in Peapack, are two of 18 Arts Access artists whose works will be exhibited from Saturday, September 30 through Friday, December 8, at The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster.
One of the featured paintings at the exhibit will be Myers’ painting, “No Solutions Yet.” It was created in 2021 during the pandemic, and its message, she points out, is that, “Anyone in a wheelchair can paint.” She adds that she loves to paint “because it’s very relaxing to me.” Known for her overlapping brushstrokes, she says she prefers them because, “I like to cover the whole thing.” Arts Access is very special to her because, “It lets me be Amy.”
Myers’ parents, Bill and Peggy Myers, who live in Rockaway, NJ, believe Amy’s artwork “provides a sense of self-worth and pride in accomplishment. Amy has created works of art that show her creativity and demonstrate her capacity to communicate and express her feelings. “We are very proud of her accomplishments and excited to share her joy. And, we are glad to hear that Amy’s artwork is being included in the Center for Contemporary Art exhibit.”
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Arts Access artists are able to freely express themselves with paint and brushes regardless of physical limitations. Working one-on-one with a professional painting facilitator the artists direct every stroke of their paintings, making it a unique vision that is truly their own. Arts Access facilitators use carefully designed and clearly-defined charts and menu systems to help establish all aspects of communication between the facilitator and the artist. In addition to traditional painting, the Arts Access Program encompasses digital art, sculpture, choreography, creative movement, creative writing, and drama.
Stephen Haluska, Cornely’s facilitator, points out that Michael “does not keep to any one style or method of painting. When Michael is creating a work of art, he paints as his muse moves him.” The Center for Contemporary Art exhibit will include a painting that Cornely created 24 years ago, in 1999. Called “Wolf Pack”, it is inspired by the wrestlers in the nWo (New World Order) Wolf Pack, which was Cornely’s favorite wrestling group in the late 1990s.
The Arts Access Program, according to Cornely’s father, Michael, a resident of West Chester, PA, “has been a fantastic outlet for Mike to express his creativity. He’s written a couple of plays that have been performed onstage as well as having created amazing paintings over the years. One of his paintings hangs in my office today. Mike and I have discussed many times how much he enjoys creating art, especially making people laugh and smile. He also feels it can change the way people view him. As his father, I am very grateful that he has the opportunity to be a part of the Arts Access Program.”
While freedom of choice is often limited for people with disabilities, it is encouraged at Arts Access. Artists choose everything from the paint color and brush stroke, to dance movement and theatrical staging, to each written word. The artists’ facilitators are working professionals in their area of expertise who have been trained to be the arms and legs of the artists with disabilities. They consciously maintain a sense of neutrality throughout the creative process, which demands a constant trust and respect between the two artists. The facilitator must never have preconceptions or assume what the artist can or cannot do. This provides a process for the artists to create works that are purely their own and utilize fine art as a means of self-expression.
The Center for Contemporary Art was founded in 1970 as the Somerset Art Association, located in Somerset, NJ. The organizers were a small group of dedicated artists who envisioned a place where they could gather, work, and share ideas. In 1990, the SAA moved to its present location, an historic schoolhouse in Bedminster. And, in 2010, in recognition of its 40th anniversary, its name was changed to The Center for Contemporary Art. It is located at 2020 Burnt Mills Road in Bedminster.
The Arts Access exhibit, entitled “Counterpoint” can be seen Monday-Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. An opening reception will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, October 5; and some of the Arts Access artists will be present. There will also be a facilitation workshop from 6-7 p.m. on Monday, November 13. Admission is free.
For more information, visit artsaccessprogram.org or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 1442.