"JENNY, ISAAC AND JOE. It sounds like a sitcom that might be aired at 2 a.m. on Channel 36," says Joe Ostraff, mastermind of "Inclusion: A Collaborative Exhibit," currently showing at the Art Access Gallery in Salt Lake City.

"We seem so different," Ostraff continues. "Isaac is energy itself - athletic and consumed by the power of technology. Jenny is quiet and thoughtful - an observer of relationships. I am older - old enough to be their parent, yet it is our commonalities that have brought us together. All three of us value the process of making marks and have found refuge in the doing."For some time, Ostraff has been preoccupied and troubled by the narcissistic nature of the "artist" working alone in his studio, creating works of art and holding them up to the public, saying, "What do you think?" The traditional, solitary, aesthetic pursuit of the artist no longer worked for him; only by including others in the creative process, Ostraff concluded, could he find fulfillment.

Believing there might be other artists who would share his idea - to champion the underprivileged, and in some cases disabled, teaching them skills that would allow them to express themselves artistically while influencing the working artist with new insights - Ostraff contacted the Salt Lake Art Council. The council, at that particular moment, chose not to become involved. However, Sharon Gray, curator of education at the Springville Museum of Art, found the notion praiseworthy. She organized the initial "Inclusion: A Collaborative Exhibition" that premiered in Springville in the fall of 1994.

"The title of the exhibit," Gray says, "refers to the act of including individuals who could derive significant benefit from the experience of interacting and working with experienced artists in a variety of mediums." Coming from special and underserved populations, these individuals provided a situation "where the artists could tap into unique and vital points of view. The exhibit will positively change perceptions regarding the capabilities of challenged individuals."

A participating artist, Robert Marshall, a professor of art at Brigham Young University, says, "As I have rehearsed my feelings about this project, I found myself realizing that we are all disabled - some are just more disabled than others. Some limitations are more apparent than others, but, by the same token, some strengths are waiting there, just below the surface; ready to leap forword and present themselves front and center."

Each participating artist chose at least one collaborative partner, defining what form the partnership would take. "The artwork of the collaborative partners hangs side by side on the gallery walls," says Ruth Lubbers, director of Art Access. "The work is colorful and the message uplifting."

Valrie Englund chose to collaborate with Ellen Fielding, visually impaired since birth. "I wanted to explore a visually challenged person's version of two dimensions," says Englund. "Ellen is an especially courageous, sensitive and creative person. It was touching how willingly she jumped into the medium of clay."

Due to Fielding's limited vision and lack of experience with clay, her work appears primitive, gnarled and twisted, like driftwood washed up on some lonely shore. Unfortunately, some unsuspecting individual, cleaning the studio, kept tossing out Fielding's work, thinking it scrap clay. Eventually, Englund corrected the situation and Fielding's playfully tactile, ceramic pieces, "Raindrop Gifts of the Rainbow to Sun, Moon and Earth," rest neatly beneath Englund's painting, "The Guy With Horses on His Pajamas."

For the past five years Louise Fischman has been working with young patients in psychiatric treatment at area hospitals and group homes. "In this collaborative exhibit," she says, "I am including two pieces that illuminate this aspect of art making. One, `My Small Window,' was made by a 14-year-old boy, Conrad, who lives in a group home." Conrad has a hard time expressing himself and art has become a healthy way of increasing his self-expression and self-esteem. His work has an elegance and beauty all its own. In his piece, which he calls a "me box," Fischman constructed the basic box, and Conrad did the rest. Making extensive use of collage, Conrad illustrates his need for flying, the beach and sea. The piece is a perfect counterpart to Fischman's box construction, "Esmerelda."

Ceramicist Joseph Germaine collaborated with two young men, Devin Milne and Scott Carson. Milne, a fourth-grader at Shelly Elementary School in American Fork, has been "in my art specialty classes for three years," Germaine says. "Devin has small flipper arms with two digits that work oppositionally like a thumb and forefinger. He honestly has no handicap when it comes to working with clay." Milne's "Black Tower" stands over 2 feet high, and when one studies its mass, shape and textural intricacies the question arises: "How did he do it?"

Carson is also in art classes at Shelley. He is in the third grade and has no real use of his right arm and hand. Carson's "Big Vase" was built with the "one hand" coil rolling technique that he has perfected. The result is a thing of beauty.

Robert Nickelson's collaborator was Jacob Carlson Palmer, a 7-year-old who has undergone multiple eye surgeries due to tumors. By the time Palmer was 3 he'd been under anesthesia 36 times, and the lower peripheral vision in his right eye is essentially gone. But Palmer is a remarkable young man. "To look at him you would never suspect his limited vision," says Nickelson. "He runs and plays like other children. He loves to climb the apple tree in front of his home. There is a `King's Seat' high in the tree that is his favorite perch." Palmer's painting (he was assisted by Nickelson) is "Hanging Around, Self Portrait" and is one of the most endearing works in the show.

Any piece of art exhibited in "Inclusion" is artistically sound and worthy of being hung.

Artists participating in "Inclusion" include Allen Bishop, Sharon R. Cannon, Valrie Englund, Louise Fischman, Doug Fryer, Wayne Geary, Joseph Germaine, Brian Kershisnik (Kershisnik and collaborator Joe Adams are currently working on a joint exhibit of their work), Sandy LeValley, Robert Marshall, Robert Nickelson and Joseph Ostraff.

"Inclusion: A Collaborative Exhibition" runs through March 10.