Donating to the table

The dinner table has become part of our everyday lives, tied to the cultural practices and social institutions of our society. The table, which is a place where people eat, converse and celebrate, can be transformed into an artistic portrayal of presenting the economic and social statuses through photography, paintings and sculptures. In a recent art exhibition, the table was transformed into art.

Art students of the School District of South Orange and Maplewood Fine Arts Program, Community Food Bank of New Jersey and Pierro Gallery collaborated with each other to donate food to win a session in an artist workshop.

The top two classes who participated and won in the food drive contest attended a workshop led by artist Eileen Hoffman and a tour of a contemporary art exhibition, TABLEau at the Pierro Gallery of South Orange. The gallery tour is led by museum professions graduate students and show’s curators, Annmarie Ventura and Brittany Venturella.

"Students are extremely creative and intelligent. There is something fulfilling and almost magical about the moment when you can share art with others and connect to others through art,” Venturella said. “Those moments make all the work that we do as curators more than worth it; it is the reason we do what we do. The students raised over 730 food donations and that food is going to people who live throughout the New Jersey community."

The food drive contest was held between Oct. 14 and Nov. 12, and the winners were announced at TABLEau’s closing celebration at the Pierro Gallery on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.

The winners had the opportunity to work in a hands-on workshop with Hoffman. They also listened to her explain how she uses writing and hidden stories in her artistic work.

"I truly believe that teaching young students how to think critically about art work and to appreciate good art is imperative to cultivating their creative, deductive reasoning and communication skills,” Ventura said. “The Pierro Gallery always has great shows and events, but not always great attendance. Facilitating programs like this one highlights how important the Pierro Gallery is as a resource to the South Orange and surrounding community."

The Pierro Gallery also worked with the Community Food Bank of New Jersey to organize and effectively conduct a second food drive that lasted until Nov. 26. These organizations have specifically collaborated to conduct such programs because of the Thanksgiving season. The partners are working to lower food insecurity in New Jersey.

Nisha Desai can be reached at nisha.desai@

Author: Staff Writer

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