For the first time, dozens of original works of art by artists from Abilities United were displayed and auctioned in a virtual gallery made possible by a Cisco collaboration platform. From June 18 until June 29, Abilities United worked with a Cisco advocacy group focused on helping children with special needs to auction original works of art by artists from Abilities United in an innovative online site open to Cisco employees worldwide. By the end of the event, all 27 pieces were sold using a technology that made access possible to thousands of potential buyers. The art sales totaled $2,500 and all proceeds go directly to the artists.

Traditionally, this artwork has been exhibited through community partnerships at business offices, government buildings, coffee shops, libraries, and art galleries all over the Bay Area, from San Jose north throughout the Peninsula and over to Berkeley.  Due to the collaboration with Cisco using the Cisco WebEx® Social collaboration platform, Cisco employees could easily view and purchase art from their desktop regardless of where they live or time of day. 

Pat Romzek, Cisco Vice President for Global Market Development, Collaboration Solutions said: “By bringing together human and technology networks, Cisco and Abilities United were able to virtually showcase meaningful art to people around the world, multiplying the impact of this unique auction and driving awareness for an important cause.  Cisco and our employees are proud to help Abilities United serve the many families with special needs children in the Bay Area.” 

The online exhibit was exclusively open to Cisco employees for this inaugural virtual auction, but the agency is evaluating a broader public adoption of the virtual exhibit for the future. The original works showcased in the virtual art auction included watercolor, acrylic, pencil and three-dimensional pieces
Abilities United artists created these works of art under the direction of teachers from Abilities United, Art for Well Being and the Pacific Art League of Palo Alto, CSMA (Community School of Music and Art) in Mountain View, and ArtReach in Daly City. These artists with developmental disabilities learned a variety of techniques using different media.  The creative process enabled them to further develop fine motor skills and concentrate on the task.  The results are a remarkable demonstration of skill and artistic expression that communicate the creator’s meaning to viewers.

Design Loft proprietor, Hellen Hsieh, is the art curator volunteer of Abilities United and sees great promise in expanding this new virtual approach. “I want more people to see the beautiful artwork individuals with disabilities are capable of creating; to see their talent and ability rather than their disability.”

If you are interested in purchasing or exhibiting artwork by artists from Abilities United please contact wendy@AbilitiesUnited or 650-618-3319

You can see some of the art on the Abilities United Facebook page

Submitted by Wendy Kuehnl, Marketing Director, Abilities United