Piper Torsilieri, a graduate of The College of New Jersey, has been named the 2017 winner of the Thomas George Artist Fund Award.
Torsilieri, 23, graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. She plans to use the award to rent studio space at the Art Academy of Hillsborough. The money will also help kick-start her own business. She plans to enter art shows and raise her name recognition so she can begin to build a client base, and hopes to have her own studio one day.
A native of Flemington, Torsilieri grew up surrounded by art. Her mom, Christine Torsilieri, is a pianist and writer, and her dad, Dean Torsilieri, is an artist. As a youngster, Piper, the third oldest of six children, began sketching illustrations and painting with watercolors. Then, at the age of 15, she started formal training at the Art Academy, initially drawing in charcoal. By the time she was 17, she had graduated to oil paintings. One of her brothers runs a show stable and she rides too, so she eventually found a way to merge her love of art and horses.
Thomas George was an internationally recognized artist whose work is included in the permanent collections of major museums, universities, corporations and private collections around the world. As a young artist, he received financial support to study and practice his art. It was that good fortune that later led him to establish the Thomas George Fund at the Princeton Area Community Foundation to support fledgling artists. Graduating art majors from Mercer County colleges and universities are eligible to apply for the annual award of $5,000.
“I was so excited to win the award,” Torsilieri said. “It’s such a relief to have some help when you graduate so you can focus on what you love. It was great, really great.”
Community Foundation President and CEO Jeffrey Vega said the mission of the foundation is to advance the well-being of communities. “The arts are an essential part of vibrant communities,” he said. “The Thomas George Artist Fund Award is just one of the many ways we use philanthropy to help our communities thrive.”