“The name represents a family sitting at a table sharing, just as our family sits at our table to create art,” she said. “Our tag is ‘We are The Art Table Studio...Where Community Meets Creativity.’”
In May, classes at Red Pipe Café at 71-60 Austin Street will be on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. for ages one to six. Owner Dr. Rene David Alkalay and Pierce visualize a win-win for parents and both businesses. Good Neighbor Seating entails a $10 minimum in food per visit, and if it exceeds $10, a 10% discount is applied. Each class is $10 for 4-week blocks or $15 per class for drop-in. Siblings receive a 10% discount. A Mother’s Day Paint and Sip will be announced shortly.
A kickstarter campaign is planned for a full mobile art truck.
“Think of an ice cream truck, but an art truck with a functional studio with sink, tables, chairs, windows, supplies, and even exhibits right outside its doors,” said Pierce, adding, “our mobile studio will help fill the creative gaps within our neighborhood and NYC public schools.”
First, the community will play a role through “KicksART Mobile Art in the Parks.”
“I will create a small scale mobile model in the park for parents to experience and ask questions,” she said. It will be on select afternoons and weekends at Ehrenreich-Austin Playground, Willow Lake Playground, and Yellowstone Park.
Pierce teaches various elements of design, consisting of color, line, shape, form, space, texture, and value, and artist inspirations are diverse, ranging from Andy Warhol and Leo Lionni to Faith Ringgold and Art Clokey, the creator of “Gumby.”
“We are mostly a processed-based studio, and we ask open-minded questions,” she explained. “This is how all projects appear different, and are unique as each student.”
Techniques include collaging, painting with acrylic and watercolor, printmaking, clay-building, digital stop animation, and paper-making. Tools consist of non-toxic fine art materials, where some are organic and handmade, classic tools, found objects, natural materials including flowers and leaves, and fruits and vegetables for stamping and tape.
“Not only is art very therapeutic, but it serves as a communicator and induces calm breathing from the sheer repetitive nature of the process of creating a work of art,” said Pierce, who often provides parents with the same materials and asks them to participate in a project alongside their child. “As they engage in the process, you can see them letting go of their morning and just relaxing and enjoying it.
“Art gives us permission to be in the moment, slow down, be thoughtful, and be reflective or impulsive,” she continued.
Art also initiates encouragement.
“It's a balance of bringing your best self to the community through service, and knowing when and how to uplift others to create extraordinary experiences,” she said. “All of this is created through community arts and arts education.”
Pierce’s goal is to own an art studio on Austin Street and overcome the high rent hurdle. It would offer morning and afternoon art classes for children and evening social paint and sip classes for adults. A wide range of art classes would include some of the current activities and many more such as sculpting, altered book/journaling, an art penpal program, and art camps.
The vision continues with an exhibition space for student and adult work, art parties, field trips for schools and collaborations to extend STEM and STEAM projects.
“We will collaborate with businesses for ‘Lunch and Learns’ and partner with learning and development enterprises of businesses to facilitate a creative space for businesses to solve people skill problems,” she said.
Pierce achieved a Bachelors of Art in Studio Art with a minor in Art History from Spelman College, and earned a Masters of Art in Teaching Art Education with a focus of curriculum design from Maryland Institute College of Art. Challenging and inspirational experiences since childhood also impacted her creativity, and a humanitarian was born. Her grandmother adopted her at age 6 and she was raised in North Carolina.
“I grew up in public housing, and there is a lot of brilliance that comes from underserved communities,” she reminisced. “My grandmother worked as an assembly worker and a custodian to support us. Proudly because of her, I was able to take art classes, piano, and participate in the band and sing in our chorale.
“I remember falling in love with Legos, playing with my brother, drawing, and letting my imagination roam free,” Pierce added. “I danced to my own drum because of the structure she provided, and I wanted to help people because of how she helped me.”
At Spelman College, she assisted people facing homelessness. She said she always had the heart to serve those who were experiencing less, and a passion for making sure people didn't feel alone. She could be found in parks and under bridges where people lived outdoors, drawing portraits in exchange for their stories.
“I adapted it into an outdoor installation and exhibit in Atlanta’s Mason Murer Gallery, with hopes of creating a visual impact that would make its way to the halls of congress to pass better legislation for people who were homeless,” she said. “My social art took me to Atlanta, Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.”
The Art Table Studio has supported over 15 local small businesses and causes. Besides Red Pipe Cafe, the businesses include Forest Hills Jewish Center, Theater Café, Cipollina Gourmet, Artists and Craftsman of LIC, the Falchi Building, Queens Mamas, and Jazz and Print.
Among her many thank-yous, Pierce said, “I am grateful for all of the advice and our inspiring local businesses owners, and especially Dmitry Ties and Soccer Friends USA.”
Pierce also owes much gratitude to the Forest Hills Mompreneur Tribe group.
“A handful of powerful local women-owned small business owners in our neighborhood meet monthly and connect daily for business to business accountability,” she said. “You are the sum of the five people that you surround yourself with most.”
In a decade, Pierce predicts having a social impact worldwide, where everyday people are connected through the arts.
“I will create a space and business model for other creative mompreneurs who are new to motherhood, and wish to serve their community through the arts and support their families,” she continued. “I will also be in the beginnings of creating a school for community arts in South America, West Africa, the Philippines, or here at home.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/arttablestudio