Pierce said Turk suggested the scholarship during a class reunion in 2015. Pierce, who comes from a family of artists, said he liked the idea.
His grandfather came to the United States from England hoping to fulfill his dream of making a career as an artist, Pierce said It didn't happen.
"The closet thing he came to being an artist was being the janitor who swept the floor at the
Gerlach Barklow card factory and look over the other artists' shoulders," Pierce said.
But Pierce's grandfather did pass his talent onto Pierce's mother.
"She would do drawings like paper dolls," Pierce said. "And she would draw their clothes and cut them out and paste them on there. Her mother was a seamstress from England who could make anything. And my mother picked up that talent."
Pierce said his mother was best known for her plaster dolls, dressed in clothes she sewed for them.
"She would triple-stitch the stitches in them," Pierce said. "The clothes never wore out."
As a boy, Pierced sketched from catalogues. In high school he sketched the "people across the room instead of paying to the teacher."
"The teacher didn't like it very much," Pierce said.
In 1957 at the age of 15, Pierce received five free lessons from Obe Smith, an art student who studied with European artists in the art schools of Chicago, Pierce said.
In his website, Pierce said Smith "demonstrated the use of the charcoal stick and values of the medium, the secrets of the feather touch and use of layering so as to bring the subject out of the paper and to life."
From Smith, Pierce also received great advice.
"Mr. Smith told me, 'Do art for yourself and work at some other job," Pierce said. "Use art for therapy and save it for yourself."
A news release from Joliet Township High School District 204 and Pierce's website said Pierce studied locally under artist John Hudak and attended Joliet Junior College, where he studied under Earl Kurtz and M. Kassiday.