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A Source of Empowerment

Amanda Lane - Co-founder of Exhibbit
Artist and facilitator Joe, at the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center in Peapack, NJ

Recently, I had the privilege of conversing with Julia Halsey, exhibits and collections coordinator at Matheny Arts Access - A fine arts program that empowers artists with disabilities to create art without limits. Julia is responsible for curating both virtual and in-person exhibitions, including exhibitions outside of the Matheny Center.

She describes how they were first introduced to exhibbit during the pandemic

Julia: One of our annual events is the NJMS Collaborative ARTS Exhibit. Our 10th anniversary of this event was during the summer of 2020 and, due to safety precautions, we were unable to hold the exhibition and reception at the in-person venue. This news was disappointing to both the artists and our supporters who look forward to seeing the show every year. But the disappointment didn’t last long when we realized that through exhibbit, we could recreate the exhibition virtually.

“We discovered that by using exhibbit, we are able to share the work not only with our artists and the New Jersey community, but also with art lovers across the globe.”

Installation shot from the 2023 NJMS Collaborative Arts Exhibit - virtual version

Amanda: How have these exhibitions affected the artists and how have they resonated with viewers from around the world?

Julia: Through exhibbit our artists’ work has been seen by people who may have never had the chance to see it in person. Viewers have come from not only the United States, but also Asia, Europe, and beyond. The response to that first virtual exhibit was so heartwarming, especially during a time when people were isolated from seeing art in real life. People everywhere were missing art, and exhibbit made it possible to spread joy through art during a challenging time.

Installation shot from the 2023 NJMS Collaborative Arts Exhibit - virtual version

Amanda: By intertwining physical and digital realms, the Matheny Arts Access program has gained a global audience. Have you noticed an increase in views, engagement and sales? 

Julia: The Collaborative ARTS Exhibit is now in its fourth year as a virtual event. Even though we returned to our in-person venue in 2022, we made the decision to host a hybrid event with a virtual gallery in addition to the in-person installation. The virtual gallery was so well received in 2020 and 2021 that we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to continue to share the exhibit with a broader audience, especially since not all of the artists were able to travel to see the installation at the venue.

“Thanks to exhibbit, they were still able to see their artwork on view. We ended up selling multiple works from that event, and I think exhibbit played a part in those sales.”

Installation shot from the NJMS Collaborative Arts Exhibit - virtual version

Julia: We do use the virtual gallery to promote the brick-and-mortar exhibitions. We love being able to send supporters the link to view the virtual exhibit and then encouraging them to see the work in-person as well if they are able. Another reason we love the virtual gallery is because people are able to view the work as many times as they’d like without having to travel to a venue, and they can really take their time looking at every piece.

In 2021, our Full Circle event was held virtually for the first time ever. The performances and tour of the gallery exhibit were pre-recorded and viewers watched the event from their homes. While we did include a video recording of the in-person gallery installation, we also curated a virtual iteration of the exhibit. The virtual gallery was an added bonus to the one-night event, because even after the event was over, people could continue to view the virtual exhibit for the remainder of the month. Many viewers said they enjoyed being able to go back and look through the paintings at their leisure.

Matheny Arts Access offers both virtual and in person programming -

Combining a variety of innovative communication systems and techniques, artists are able to create unique bodies of work in the visual, literary and performing arts. Arts Access offers both virtual and in-person programming at the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center in Peapack, NJ, which features a professional art studio, gallery and fully accessible theatre for artists to create and perform.

Joe working with Misty H and Rich K working with Stephen

Through their utilisation of both a physical gallery space and exhibbit - Matheny provides an exhibition experience to people outside their local area and have consequently spread their reach internationally. This engagement has lead to exhibbit playing an ongoing part in delivering memorable art exhibitions.

Thank you Matheny, for realising the potential virtual exhibitions have for delighting and growing both your local and international visitors.

The Art Studio at the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center in Peapack, NJ