Elijah Pierce Gallery

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The Elijah Pierce Gallery presents a wide range of historical and contemporary exhibitions that include painting, sculpture, graphics, photography, and decorative arts.  The gallery is named in honor of the late Columbus Near East Side resident Elijah Pierce, America’s foremost wood carver of 20thcentury folk art.

About Elijah Pierce

Elijah Pierce was born to a former slave in Baldwin, Mississippi and began to carve at an early age when his father gave him a pocket knife. He developed a hobby for woodcarving and began carving wooden farm animals and other figurines from wood scraps he found. In his teens Pierce had taken an interest in barbering. He learned the trade from a barbershop in his hometown and decided to make it a career. He moved to Columbus in 1923 to be with his wife Cornelia and opened a barbershop on East Long Street after her death in 1951.

After his move to Columbus, Elijah began to carve wood more seriously. By the early 1930s, be began mounting his three-dimensional figures on cardboard or wooden backgrounds. In 1932, Pierce completed the Book of Wood, which he considered his best work. As an evangelistic lay minister, a number of his later works were also inspired by biblical stories and proverbs, Old and New Testament topics inspired him. “Every piece of work I got carved,” stated Pierce, “is a message, a sermon.”  His early work also depicted African-inspired fables, Freemasonry symbols, African-American heroes, and a veritable “Noah’s Ark” of animals.

During this lifetime, Pierce received international recognition for his work and is regarded as one of the most talented and influential woodcarvers of his time. In 1973, Pierce won first prize in the International Meeting of Native Art in Zagreb, Yugoslavia. In 1982, the National Endowment of the Arts awarded him a fellowship as one of 15 master traditional artists. After his death in 1984, the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing and Cultural Arts Complex recognized his work by naming the Elijah Pierce Gallery in his honor.


Current Exhibit

M(art)in Unites

The display will be on view until February 22, 2019
6 PM - 8 PM
The Elijah Pierce Gallery
Free admission

The Elijah Pierce Gallery is open Tuesday – Friday, 11 AM – 5:30 PM and Saturdays by appointment.

The annual, juried exhibit, M(art)in Unites is a collaborative project with Blick Art Supplies. Our goal is to foster and proactively support diversity, love, and equality within our community through visual art. For information on how to enter the show, please contact Lyn Logan-Grimes at llogan-grimes@kingartscomplex.com.

Presented in partnership with Blick Arts Supplies. Project support for Martin Unites comes from the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the City of Columbus

Hours and Services

At the Gallery, a rich variety of programs and services are available to the public that include:

  • Exhibitions of local, national, and international artists
  • School tours of exhibitions
  • Gallery talks and hands-on workshops in art education
  • Study guides and resource materials
  • Jr. Docent guided tours


The Elijah Pierce Gallery Hours:

Sunday: Closed
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 11 am - 5:30 pm
Wednesday: 11 am - 5:30 pm
Thursday: 11 am - 5:30 pm
Friday: 11 am - 5:30 pm
Saturday: Appointment Only
Group Tours by Appointment