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Meet Kierra Aiello of Art Restart – A Social Enterprise of The Gathering Place

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kierra Aiello.

Kierra, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Growing up in Grand Junction, I still managed to find ways to be active in the art communities while skiing, hiking, and biking most weekends. I participated in art classes at The Art Center, attended a wide variety of arts events, and played cello in the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra. This passion for arts grew, and eventually, I pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and Art History, quickly followed by a Master’s degree in Art History with a Museum Studies concentration from the University of Denver. Throughout my college years, I hustled around Denver, working as many as three part-time jobs to stay busy and involved. This included everything from The Denver Art Museum gift shop, to museum collections, and eventually a Research Fellow position for the Madden Museum of Art.

Once out of school, I needed a way to stay attached to the arts while still building an ambitious career. It was then that I found Art Restart. I started as the Business Development Associate where I doubled social media followings, launched monthly email campaigns to subscribers, and communicated with corporate partners around Denver. Eventually, I moved up into my current role as Manager of Art Restart. Now, I lead communication with all of our partners, organize gallery and pop-up shop events, interact with artists, and oversee products.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Truly, it has been a fairly smooth road for me. Of course, there are always the little hiccups – job searches are hard, student loan payments can sneak up on you, some events are seemingly impossible to staff – but it is best to try to take these little pains in stride. I am thankful that I have a career that aligns with my passion for art, and that so many wonderful friends, family members, and mentors have stood by my side and helped me through rough patches along the way.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Art Restart – A Social Enterprise of The Gathering Place story. Tell us more about your art.
Art Restart is a social enterprise of The Gathering Place, a daytime drop-in center in Denver for women, transgender individuals, and their children experiencing poverty or homelessness. We take art made by members in TGP’s art studio and reproduce it on beautiful cards, scarves, journals, calendars, and tote bags. Each purchase equals a royalty check for the artist, putting her on a path to self-sufficiency, and providing validation of her skills. The remainder of the proceeds go back to The Gathering Place, which provides programs such as high school equivalency classes, childcare, job search assistance, food, and much more.

Art Restart and The Gathering Place are pillars of the Denver community that meet the people we serve where they are and provide the help they need. The Gathering Place was founded over 30 years ago and continues to grow programming to best aide the people that need us. Through the art program, artists can hone their skills, making cards and art of all kinds and sometimes participate in classes. Not only does this provide a creative escape, but it also builds confidence and community among artists.

The former Director of Art Restart, Teresa Densmore, likes to tell a story about an artist who goes by the initials VEC. One holiday season, Teresa had a check of over $100 for VEC. In the life of someone who may not know where their next meal is coming from, or if they can provide for their family, a check like this means more than many may guess. However, when Teresa handed her the check, expecting pure elation, VEC instead turned to her and said “the money is great, but what really matters is that someone thinks I’m an artist.” We are proud to make women feel like the artists they are, and we continue to spread this feeling by selling Art Restart products, and organizing gallery art exhibits so that the artists can see their creations in a professional setting.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I am a lucky person. I was born into a privileged life and given every resource to succeed in my schooling and career. Many of the people that Art Restart and The Gathering Place work with do not have the same kind of good luck. They live in crisis every day, and the work we do simply attempts to ease this burden and help some try to change their luck.

Pricing:

  • Individual Card – $5
  • Pack of 6 Cards – $20
  • Journal – $20
  • 2020 Calendar – $30
  • Tote Bag- $30
  • Scarf – $50

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Grace Clark, Kierra Aiello, The Gathering Place

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