Elijah Pierce Gallery

ATHE Tommi Lee 031924JC

On View:

April 20 - June 22, 2024

 Tuesdays through Fridays by appointment from 1 PM to 5 PM
Group Tours are available to be scheduled
Elijah Pierce Gallery

In celebration of Autism Acceptance Month, The King Arts Complex is happy to announce Art Through Her Eyes: Masterpiece curated by Tommi Lee, April 20, 2024-June 22, 2024, at the Elijah Pierce Gallery located at 835 Mt. Vernon Ave, Columbus, OH. An opening reception will be held Saturday, April 20th 2:00 pm-4:00 pm. April is Autism Acceptance Month and there are 5.8 million adults on the autism
spectrum. Autism is a developmental condition that affects social skills, communication, language, and self-regulation according to the Autism Society of America. Art is essential to individuals on the spectrum because it improves engagement, inclusion, self-confidence, and active participation in the community.

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.


Operating supporters include AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER Foundation, Bath and Body Works, City of Columbus, Columbus Foundation, Crabbe Brown & James, LLP, Easton Community Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Martin Luther King Breakfast Committee, Inc., Nationwide Foundation and Ohio Arts Council.

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