Kerrie Bellisario, Counting Down, Photography and digital media

Montclair, NJ – Studio Montclair is delighted to highlight its Art Academy by displaying the artistry of 12 faculty members in “It’s Academic,” on exhibit from July 30 to August 26 at Studio Montclair Gallery, 127 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair. An opening reception will take place on Saturday, August 6 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm.

Armisey Smith, Voyage #1, Acrylic on canvas

SMI’s Art Academy, launched in 2020, supports artists of all abilities, especially those in underserved populations. It specializes in one-on-one classes for adults with disabilities. The Art Academy recruits professional artist/teachers with highly specialized skills to work as instructors and mentors with students of varying skillsets and experience. Its programs use differentiated instruction as a framework to effectively teach all students regardless of differences in ability, aiming to reach and cultivate creativity in students of varying cultures, socioeconomic status, language, gender, age, ability/differently abled, and personal interests.

Onnie Strother, You Ain’t Nothin, Big Momma Thornton & Hound Dog Taylor, Lino cut

According to Art Academy instructors:

“Teaching an adult with disabilities is extremely rewarding. It’s like being part of their own unique world. Enhancing a person’s skill level provides him or her with personal fulfillment, along with a sense of peace and self-expression that can result in a happier, more independent life.”

“In my many years of teaching in so many diverse settings, I am struck by the way art allows a peek into the inside of my students’ mind. There is so much beauty, knowledge, and insight inside each of us and the trick is discovering and exploring how to bring that into the daylight…”

Vazquez, La Llorona, Acrylic painting

“I’ve been teaching the special needs community for over 15 years. Working with my students is a partnership. I establish and nurture a relationship that encourages and unleashes student’s creative talent…”

“Teaching art through SMI Art Academy is a truly joyful experience for me. The approach to working with each student is a unique engagement. I have a deep bond with my students and we work together to conceive of artworks in a collaborative way – from materials, concept, and narrative to color choices and final touches. Being able to work one-on-one with my student through this program is a highlight in my weekly schedule.”

Participating Artists:

Kerrie Bellisario, Joan M. Brenner, Todd S. Carpenter, Joan A Cummings, Nanci Iovino, Samantha Katehis, Mansa K. Mussa, Amanda Thackray, Armisey Smith, Onnie Strother, Vazquez, Malik Whitaker

Mansa K. Mussa, A Teardrop for Lost Souls, iPadology

Exhibition Dates: July 30 through August 26, 2022
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 6, 3 – 5 pm
Gallery: Studio Montclair Gallery, 127 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair, NJ
Gallery Hours: Check website at

Student Exhibit, “Inspirations Abound”

Concurrently, the students from SMI’s Art Academy will be displaying their work in “Inspirations Abound,” an exhibit presented by JSDD’s WAE Center and Studio Montclair at the new Heidi Gallery located at 310 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston, NJ.

Bursting with ideas, invention, and enthusiasm this exhibit brings together two committed community organizations who believe in the power of art to transform life. Facilitators working in multiple mediums and artists who never tire of the creative process have brought their favorite works together for this marvelous exhibit.