On March 5, 1892, on a farm near Baldwyn Mississippi, Elijah Pierce, the son of a former slave, was born. Pierce took up the practice of wood carving when he was young. His uncle would encourage the practice.
Pierce decided early in life he did not want to be a farmer, instead, he trained to be a barber. He would continue in this line of work until after the death of his first wife. After her death, he would lead a nomadic existence for several years working as a laborer.
His mother encouraged him to become a preacher. Pierce would preach until he moved North, first to Illinois, then to Columbus, Ohio, where he would meet his second wife. He would return to the barber trade and focus on his wood carving. Pierce was known to give many of his works away to people he thought could benefit from them. Some of his works focused on secular subject matter, such as sports and politics, but religion would be a primary focus of many of his works.
Pierce died on May 7, 1984. Many of his works are in the possession of the Columbus Museum of Art.
“Elijah Pierce Biography.” Columbus State Community College – It’s Where the World Is Going!. http://www.cscc.edu/elijahpierce/bio.htm (accessed August 26, 2013).
“NEA National Heritage Fellowships: Elijah Pierce, Carver/Painter.” National Endowment for the Arts Home Page. http://www.nea.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1982_10&type=bio (accessed August 26, 2013).