Elijah Pierce, Outsider Artist, Finds a Spotlight in Philadephia

By Jane L. Levere
Mr. Pierce’s “Love (Martin Luther King, Jr). The Collection of Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz; the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Barnes Foundation’s new exhibition of wood carvings and other works by Elijah Pierce has been in the planning stages for almost two years, but arriving in late 2020, it has a particular political resonance. In the exhibition’s catalog, Thom Collins, the executive director of the Barnes, said the Philadelphia museum sought “not to repaint Pierce as an activist, a term he would likely reject, but to present his aesthetic themes and philosophical concerns as ones that were, and are, vital and relevant. Like that of any great artist, Pierce’s body of work invites deep reflection. His wood carvings compel us to consider the complexities of what it means to be alive and to bear witness to our present moment.” [More]