Arts program unlocks potential of severely disabled artists


(CBS News) — With a keen eye for color and the help of a steady hand, artist Ellen Kane makes the images in her mind come alive.

Ellen has cerebal palsy, a neurological disorder that affects muscle coordination. She only speaks with hand signals, but at Matheny’s Arts Access program in New Jersey, a studio for people with special needs, she has complete control.

Trained facilitators, who are also artists, ask Ellen question after question.

“What we really had to do was develop a way for it to get from their heads to our hands,” said Eileen Murray, director of Arts Access.

“The work is outstanding and I’ve always felt that it deserves to be on a big stage,” said Murray.

Sotheby’s agreed. The famous auction house gave Ellen and four of her fellow artists the chance of a lifetime, an exhibit in New York City.

Ellen sold three paintings in the day-long exhibit. The top price for one of her masterpieces was $800.


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