'Elijah Pierce's America' celebrates renowned Black woodworker at Barnes Foundation

The four-month exhibit is the first major retrospective of the artist's work in Philadelphia.

ByWendy Daughenbaugh via WPVI logo
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
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The Barnes Foundation is putting on a four-month exhibit honoring renowned Black wood carver Elijah Pierce.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Barnes Foundation is celebrating the life and work of renowned Black woodcarver Elijah Pierce with a four-month exhibit.

Pierce was born in 1892 in Mississippi to a father who had been enslaved. He became a barber, a preacher and an artist and was part of the Great Migration north.

He settled in Columbus, Ohio where he used his barbershop as a studio and his art to reflect his views of American life, faith, politics and racial injustice.

This is the first major retrospective of the artist's work in Philadelphia in more than a quarter-century, with more than 100 pieces ...created from the 1920s to the 1980s.

'The Book of Wood' is considered one of the most important pieces in the exhibition. It's carved wooden pages depict Bible scenes. Pierce and his wife traveled the country, teaching from the book.

Barnes Foundation | Sept. 27- Jan. 10

2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130