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Asbury Park hosts ‘Chairs of Inclusion’
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Asbury Park hosts ‘Chairs of Inclusion’

The Wae Center team who created the “Wae of the Zen” chair with lead artist Mansa Mussa, center, who will conduct a hands-on workshop in Asbury Park for art educators with a focus on special needs.
The Wae Center team who created the “Wae of the Zen” chair with lead artist Mansa Mussa, center, who will conduct a hands-on workshop in Asbury Park for art educators with a focus on special needs.

The “Chairs of Inclusion” — created to represent a vision of a world in which every person is entitled to a “seat at the table” — are coming to Asbury Park Nov 8-29.

Artists were commissioned to create the 11 chairs in collaboration with the member-artists of the Wae (Wellness, Arts, Enrichment) Center in West Orange in celebration of its 10th anniversary. The goal was to shift perceptions about what individuals with disabilities can accomplish as part of the community. 

The center is part of the Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled of MetroWest, an agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

Lisa Ficarelli-Halpern, one of the project’s lead artists, said, “I believe art as a process is a valuable tool for connecting people of different backgrounds, ethnicity, experience, and age. It also transcends the prescribed manner of learning that too often accompanies and determines the success of a collaborative endeavor.” 

“I’ve seen the power of inclusive art many times in my work,” said NJTV Driving Jersey producer Steve Rogers, who documented the “Chairs” project for the Wae Center. “The fact that something as useful and ordinary as chairs were chosen for this work is a powerful example of seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary, the beauty in what is simple, and the ability — not the disability — in those who created them.” 

Each chair is hosted by the following: Heaven and Art Antiques, Parlor Gallery, Asbury Park Music Foundation, Shelter Home, The ShowRoom Cinema, B&G Home Interiors, art629 Gallery, Words!, Tao Massage, Coil & Co., Oasis Home, and Asbury Park Train Station. 

The following free events are planned: 

Sunday, Nov. 8, 2-4 p.m.: Opening reception at Parlor Gallery 

Thursday, Nov. 12, 1 p.m.: “The Role of Chairs in Jewish Tradition,” lecture by Rabbi Nasanayl Braun, ShowRoom Cinema

Sunday, Nov. 15, 2-4 p.m.: Hands-on workshop for art educators with a focus on special needs, led by Mansa Mussa (registration required)

Sunday, Nov. 22, 11:30 a.m.: “The Surprising Significance of Chairs,” lecture/tour by art curator Barbara Lipton, ShowRoom Cinema 

Sunday, Nov. 29, 2-4 p.m.: Closing reception, Asbury Park Train Station

For details and to register, go to jsddmetrowest.org/chairs-of-inclusion-at-asbury

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