Vibrance settles into new space at The Plaza: Looks forward to serving wider audience at new location

A sign, that states Vibrance will reopen on the 5th of June, is seen at the front entrance on Tuesday at The Plaza mall. The arts workshop and creative space was started by Gateway Borough Assembly Member AJ Pierce. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Vibrance — A Creative Space, owned and operated by Amanda Pierce, recently relocated from its former Thomas Street location to a new space in The Plaza mall.

Vibrance is a store and workshop space for local artists. In addition to teaching and hosting a variety of art classes, the business also rents out workshop space, provides artists with supplies, and can host birthday parties, school or work groups. Small, local art is sold and displayed in the space.

Visitors to Vibrance have many options on how to use the facilities provided. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own project and supplies, and pay for the use of space, or bring their own project without supplies, and work on their art using the wide variety of supplies from Vibrance's collection. Artists can also sign up to teach their own classes.

"That is what is most important to me (sharing art)," Pierce said.

Pierce opened Vibrance two years ago and operated from the previous location before moving to The Plaza mall about two months ago.

As Vibrance grew and gathered a larger audience, the business found the small space in which it was operating wasn't ideal for its focus: art classes and studio space. School groups, work parties or young children were difficult to have in the building, with the tight parking area making it hard to host large groups.

As Vibrance searched for a solution to the issue, Pierce was approached by The Plaza mall manager, Judy Zenge, with an opportunity: an accessible, public space in the Plaza.

Pierce accepted, and Vibrance relocated to the second floor of The Plaza mall.

"The most rewarding (part of the move) has been the accessibility for folks," Pierce said. "In less than two years, I've been able to be blessed to come here."

She recalled that the building had been a "dream space" for her vision of Vibrance.

"I knew that I could teach, but I never thought of myself as an artist, because it was very personal," said Pierce.  

At the new location, Vibrance is able to not only serve wider audiences, but also larger groups of patrons. Pierce recalls a visit from two first-grade classes from Houghtaling Elementary School, during which she sat down with each student and instructed them on how to make plastic buttons using a button press.

 Pierce said she wants Vibrance to attract more people still.

"I want to talk to those folks that say they don't have a creative bone in their body. Those are my favorite kind of people," Pierce said about beginning artists. "Those are the people that have the capacity to make something on their own. They kind of come in without any major expectations."

According to Pierce, the relocation inspired her to think of Vibrance's future.

"I don't think I've ever been able to be in a position to think about that (the future of Vibrance). Everything's been in the moment,” Pierce said, elaborating that she would like to see a potter's wheel added to the shop, as well as more space taken up on the walls with local artists' work.

However, she said that being able to donate to local nonprofits using the funds from classes would be a goal.

“In the beginning stages of what Vibrance was even going to be, I knew that I wanted to be paying it forward to nonprofits,” she said.

She described Ketchikan's art community as a "robust, eclectic melting pot of artists" and "super powerful."