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In the December 19, 1936 Afro American an announcement was published highlighting the marriage of Delilah with Joseph L. Pierce. This was 1930’s African American society at its best. The wedding was performed by the Reverend Walter H. Brooks who was a religious scholar and at the time pastor of the Nineteenth Baptist Church, the first African American Baptist church of Washington, DC.
Click to read the 1936 Afro American Article: Married Saturday.
Delilah W. Pierce & Her Connection To The First African American Admitted To The National Press Club
Reporter Louis Lautier, who, according the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, is known for being an advocate who successfully achieved integrating the Senate and House press galleries in 1947. Mr. Lautier covered the life of Delilah W. Pierce and highlighted her in his Afro American newspaper Capital Spotlight column. At the time Mr. Lautier was working as a freelance journalist. Mr. Lautier referred to Delilah W. Pierce as a “schoolmarm” when he announced her marriage to Joseph L. Pierce. He also followed her work as the president and delegate of the Phi Delta Kappa sorority. Louis Lautier was also the first African American admitted to the National Press Club.
Click image thumbnails below to review his 1936 & 1947 articles:
Delilah W. Pierce Helped Address Gender & Racial Inequality In Forever Free: Art By African-American Women, 1862-1980 An Exhibition
Delilah W. Pierce not only helped to expand black identity perceptions during her life and career as an artist, curator, educator and advocate, she helped break down the vicious barriers of gender inequality within the visual arts community.
Author Susan Willand Worteck said in the introduction:
The role of black women in the development of the visual arts in America is a relatively new subject for research and museum exhibitions. Therefore, it was no small undertaking for Illinois State University to organize Forever Free, an exhibition of 118 works by forty-nine artists which features achievements in the visual arts by African-American women. The exhibition is a revelation and a challenge; because historians and critics until recently have overlooked art by women in general, art by black women has suffered a double bias. In response to this oversight, Forever Free is a historical overview of work in all media by black women artists from 1862 to 1980.
Forever Free, published by Feminist Studies, was also accompanied by an exhibition. In 1982 the exhibition was at the Indianapolis Museum of Art from January – February 15, 1982.
In 1983 The Gallery published a book authored by historian and current Harvard University Adjunct Professor John Beardsley; color field painter and lyrical abstractionist Sam Gilliam and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The book covered modern painters at the Corcoran, which included African American art. In the book Sam Gilliam talks with great affection about Delilah W. Pierce, who exhibited regularly at Corcoran.
Learn how you can obtain this book at your local library: Sam Gilliam: exhibition March 24 – May 22, 1983, Part 3.
Jet Magazine always dedicated a section to activities within the African American community around the country. In 1975 their June edition promoted an exhibit held by Georgette Seabrooke Powell and the DC Art Association. Delilah W. Pierce was one of the exhibitors. This exhibition was held to show the diversity within the African American visual arts community.
Delilah W. Pierce helped expand the Black Arts Movement with her figurative and abstract paintings. Her art helped express the diversity within the black aesthetic, during a time where African Americans were exploring the idea of what it meant to be “BLACK” and how that related to the larger mainstream American culture. This was also a time of women fighting for equality.
The Black Arts Movement is often connected with the protests of the 1960’s. What many forget is the groundswell of black publishing houses, magazines journals and art institutions during the time and how the Black Arts Movement led to the creation of many African American studies programs in universities outside of historically black institutions.
In 2009, the Mint Museum of Art published, along with Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust and Carla M. Hanzal (authors) a historical review of Lois Mailou Jones’ life and artistic career. The book is connected with a traveling exhibition. In the book Ms. Jones talks about the 1960’s and how artists like Delilah W. Pierce and poet Maya Angelou were “pioneers in introducing the movement among [their] students.” Click to learn how you can read: Loïs Mailou Jones: a life in vibrant color.
- Lois Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color at The Women’s Museum Dallas Art News
- Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color New York Public Library
In 1996 the New Art Examiner, a Chicago based publication that began because it wanted to provide an “unique vantage point outside the artistic mainstream,” highlighted the Corcoran Gallery and their African American art exhibitions. According to the article, their inclusion of African American art positioned the Corcoran Gallery as, “a leading educational resource center for African American art of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” Delilah W. Pierce had many exhibitions at the Corcoran from 1957 to 1982, including a traveling show in 1960 and 1961…and is among their permanent collection.
Click to learn how you can read the New Art Examiner Article.
Dr. Sharon F. Patton, former director at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art (Washington, DC), set out to accomplish two primary goals in the Oxford History of Art: African American Art:
- 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.
Click the following link to learn more about the Oxford History of Art: African American Art.
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.
According to Dr. Janet Gail Abbott and the research compiled in her December 2008 dissertation The Barnett Aden Gallery A Home For Diversity In A Segregated City:
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….”
Click to learn how you can view Keith Morrison’s book: Art In Washington and Its Afro-American Presence: 1940-1970.
Click to read more about Dr. Gail Abbott’s paper: The Barnett Aden Gallery A Home For Diversity In A Segregated City: