Artists team up with developmentally disabled to create work during quarantine

An arts program that is an outlet for some developmentally disabled New Jersey residents is adapting to quarantine to keep on creating.
Cheryl Chapin and Andrew Edge may be separated physically because of the pandemic, but they are still able to create art together. Chapin is a participant in the Arts Access program at Matheny, a nonprofit based in Peapack that serves those with developmental disabilities. The program utilizes professional artists like Edge.
Edge and the other artists act as facilitators to help create the vision a disabled person has, even if they are unable to put it on a canvas.
“Let’s of artists I work with, you can see how happy they get. They even surprise themselves,” Edge says.
Dancer Heather Williams is a movement facilitator. Like Edge, her sessions were done in-person before the pandemic. She says that facilitating on Zoom with participants, many of whom are nonverbal, is challenging.
“I’m taking cues off the raise of an eyebrow or a thumbs up or a fist, which might mean ‘No’ for somebody. And the challenge comes in if their fist goes off screen. I’m losing that communication,” says Williams.
More information about the program can be found on the Matheny Arts Access website.