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ebrooklyn media/Photos by John Alexander
ebrooklyn media/Photos by John Alexander
Leigh Holliday Brannan talks with students and their parents during Art Room exhibit.

Did you ever wonder what a child would do when given the opportunity to create art inspired by a contemporary artist? Well, the Art Room, located at 8710 Third Ave. in Bay Ridge, provided children of all ages with the opportunity to learn about Japanese art and create their own personal masterpieces.

On Sunday, June 3, the Art Room presented a colorful art exhibit of polka dot mirror art inspired by Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese contemporary artist who has been called the “Queen of Polka Dots.”

Kusama’s work is based in conceptual art and contains elements of minimalism, surrealism, pop art, and abstract expressionism.

The children were encouraged to create their own abstract art using a mirror as their canvas and incorporating patterns with bright and bold colors.

The Art Room is run by a dedicated staff of teachers including founder Leigh Holliday Brannan and her mother-in-law Mary Immaculata Brannan. Students ages three to 12 attend classes to learn about art.

Leigh was born and raised in Washington, D.C. After high school, she moved to the Midwest to study psychology, but decided her first love was art and moved back to the nation’s capital to attend the Corcoran College of Art and Design. After graduating in 1996, she founded a fine art school for children near Georgetown, where she remained for seven years.

In 2003, Leigh moved to New York City where she worked for a time on Wall Street, before again realizing that art was her true passion. In 2010, she founded the Art Room NYC, and has been educating and inspiring children to create art ever since. She is married to City Councilmember Justin Brannan.

Mary has been a teacher at Holy Angels Catholic Academy in Bay Ridge for 30 years. She began her career as a kindergarten teacher in 1984, and was responsible for founding the school’s Pre-K program in 1990. 

“We spent a couple of weeks studying Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese artist who’s called the “Polka Dot Princess,” Mary said. “We presented the idea that the kids would each do a sketch to execute their mirror. Everything is their own selection, including the color of paint they chose.”

Leigh pointed out the range of expression from the youngest kids who did little dot designs to the older children who created intricate works of art.

“We picked Yayoi Kusama as a theme because we wanted the kids to feel the cohesion of work that was going to go up and we think it’s really come together beautifully,” Leigh said. “It also shows how unique everyone is when you view it as a body of work.”

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