In 1964, president of the Atlantic City branch of Phi Delta Kappa, Delilah W. Pierce received a NAACP life membership for her service. The membership was given through the Atlantic City, NJ branch because Delilah was a past national president (basileus).
Discuss folk and decorative arts such as ceramics, furniture, and quilts alongside fine art, sculptures, paintings, and photography during the 1800s.
Examine the New Negro Movement of the 1920s, the era of Civil Rights and Black Nationalism during the 1960s and 70s, and the emergence of new black artists and theorists in the 1980s and 90s.
Dr. Patton rightfully discussed Delilah W. Pierce’s friend and peer, Alma Thomas (1891-1978) during her exploration and analysis of The Evolution of A Black Aesthetic. In this section Dr. Patton used the words of Delilah W. Pierce in order to help provide context about Alma Thomas’ work:
Delilah W. Pierce (1904 – 1992), recalled that she and Alma often took long drives in the country, and Thomas would show a keen interest in the different effects of light and atmosphere. Nature is here reduced to staccato strokes of one to four colours. The spacing and repetition of colours create a visual rhythm: the formalized progressions of symphonies rather than the syncopation of jazz sensed in her slightly later paintings.
The Barnett Aden Gallery, founded in 1943 by James Vernon Herring (1897-1969) and Alonzo Aden (1906-1961), was the first privately owned African American gallery in the United States. It was located in Washington, DC.
Delilah W. Pierce held exhibitions their in 1958, 1959, and 1960 and was actively involved with The Barnett Aden Gallery.
In 1985 Keith Morrison, artist, educator, curator, art critic, and administrator authored: Art in Washington and its Afro-American Presence: 1940-1970. The book was published by the Washington Project for the Arts in 1985. His book, in part, helped to canonize The Barnett Aden Gallery and their important impact on African American artists in the mid to late 20 century. His book is in university libraries throughout the United States and the world.
The Barnett Aden…remained the most prominent local throughout the forties…[and] when an early exhibition at the Barnet Aden drew artists and friends from other cities, a local reviewer wrote that “Alma Thomas, Delilah W. Pierce, and Lucille D. Roberts…assisted in receiving the week-end guests….”
Delilah W. Pierce and Alma W. Thomas were dear friends and cohorts. According to family representatives of Ms. Pierce, they recall them attending many luncheons, events, and exhibitions together. Delilah W. Pierce was mentioned in the Alma Thomas papers (1894-2000) as part of her Little Paris Group, 1948, and on her Wikipedia page:
“Thomas and Pierce would drive into the countryside where Thomas would seek inspiration, pulling ideas from the effects of light and atmosphere on rural environments.”
In September of 1998 Alma W. Thomas published: Alma W. Thomas: A Retrospective of the Paintings and included Delilah W. Pierce in the book.
On February 12, 1985 the National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC hosted an exhibition and talk entitled: An Evening with Delilah W. Pierce, part of the Continuing Traditions: Festival of Afro-American Arts. The event was one hour long (6 pm to 7 pm). According to Mary Markey with the Smithsonian Institution Archives, “[We] can’t tell what the actual attendance was, but 80 chairs were requested for the hall.”
Delilah W. Pierce is among the permanent collection at the National Museum of American Art.
On June 23, 1984 Delilah W. Pierce was the featured artist at the Wayland House Gallery in Washington, DC. The exhibition was promoted in the Afro American’s Feminine Frontier section. According to reporter Nikki Nakantani, the Wayland House had a reception the week before and the exhibition also featured fellow Washington, DC artist Peter Robinson and works from the Wayland House.
The Wayland House Gallery is located at 1802 11th Street, NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20001-5021 and opened in 1982. According to information published on a company profile website, the gallery, “primarily operates in the Nature Parks and other similar institutions industry.”
On September 12, 1950 Delilah W. Pierce was featured in an article highlighting the achievements of a Washington, DC business called The Ethical Prescription Pharmacy. The article was entitled One Million Prescriptions Under Same Ownership Is Proud Record. According to the article she was the first and one-millionth customer of the business, which began in 1929 during the start of the Great Depression (1929-1939). This is significant because of the following:
• African Americans and women in America were fighting for equal rights and a fair shot at the American dream;
• Drug pharmacies were in the process of trying to do a better job of policing themselves and holding themselves accountable for unethical and (or) careless drug dispensary practices.
It goes without saying that the feature of an educated African American woman in Washington, DC during the early to mid 1900’s was an accomplishment by itself. However, Delilah W. Pierce – educator, artist, curator, and advocate, published in a newspaper with African American businessman, Dr. Lewis Terry, that praised him for serving 1 million customers was an even greater accomplishment – Especially when you think about the interesting history of druggist at the time.
For example, pharmacy in America from the 1800’s to the early 1900’s was thought of as a skilled trade. Pharmacy practitioners were trained as apprentices. According to historical records published on Wiki, prior to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 America didn’t have higher education requirements or legislation protecting its citizens from the usage of “high-alcoholic content patent medicines, [and] soothing syrups for infants with opium derivatives…” Many pharmacies were both the wholesale manufacturer and distributors of often toxic products, while providing consultation to patients without having a medical degree. In a white paper published by Jones and Bartlett Publishers, entitled Evolution of the Profession and Medication Use Systems:
“Many of the patent medicines sold at the time were inefficacious [and] mislabeled.”
When Dr. Lewis Terry and Dr. Leo L. Williams opened The Ethical Prescription Pharmacy in 1929 during the depression they were solely focused on filling prescriptions. According to the Baltimore Afro-American, it was a “new type of business.” Additionally, they were licensed practitioners who graduated from medical school.
According to the article Dr. Terry Lewis gave Delilah W. Pierce an “especially fixed keepsake…in [a] gold leaf bottle.”
Delilah W. Pierce was highlighted in 1971 by being included in The International Review of African American Art, Volume 14 – Published by the Museum of African American Art (Los Angeles, California & Hampton, Virginia). Delilah W. Pierce shared her gift with the world. Ms. Pierce earned the Agnes-Meyer Fellowship (Europe, Middle East and Africa study), where she traveled and was influenced by the cultures and landscapes of London, Paris, Holland, Rome, Greece, Lebanon, the Holy Land, the River Jordan, Cairo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, and Dakar. She traveled internationally throughout her career, however, most of her international work accomplishments occurred from 1952 to 1962 and again in 1971 to 1975. View The International Review of African American Art, Volume 14, Museum of African American Art, 1997.
According to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art Delilah W. Pierce was to exhibit at The National Women’s Caucus for Art – College Art Association’s Annual meeting in 1979. Emily Martin and Tritobia Benjamin were the co-curators. However, do to the lack of funding the exhibition was cancelled. Learn More: Artists’ files for exhibition of African-American women artists, 1969-1978.