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For Immediate Release
College Park, MD August 20, 2015 – Beginning September 27, 2015 Delilah W. Pierce Natural Perspective opens at the University of Maryland University College Arts Program Gallery. The show runs to January 3, 2016. On November 8, 2015, from 3 pm to 5 pm, there will be a panel discussion and reception at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center featuring Floyd Coleman, Ph.D., Art Historian, Jerry Langley, Art Collector, Author, Wanda Spence, Great-Niece of Artist, and Myrtis Bedolla, Owner, Galerie Myrtis.
Delilah W. Pierce, born in 1904, 34 years after the American Industrial Revolution (1820-1870), was an African American artist and Washington, DC native who, through her body of work, helped to expand western thought about what African American art and subject matter was at the time. Delilah captured what was beautiful, simple, and innocent in the world. Her usage of figurative to abstract subject matter was inspired by her ability to see prosperity and opportunity during Jim Crow and mass lynching. Art critic Judith Means agrees:
“The way she perceives the world, with joy and optimism, and the stunning clarity of her finely-developed aesthetic sense are integral not only to her character but also to the vivid visual textures of her work.”
Join the Arts Program at University of Maryland University College for an art exhibition showcasing the works of Delilah W. Pierce. Delilah W. Pierce also worked in D.C. public schools for more than 25 years to provide artistic training to the next generation of artists.
You are invited to experience the art of Delilah W. Pierce, as well as take a journey through the life and artistic expression of one of Washington, DC’s rediscovered artists, educators, curators, and advocates. To RSVP: www.umuc.edu/artrsvp.
Office of the President
University Arts Program
3501 University Boulevard East, Suite 0144
Adelphi, MD 20783-8000
President Harry Truman was the President of the United States from 1945 to 1953, a time of grand expectations in post WWII America. He succeeded President Franklin D. Roosevelt after he died. President Truman had big shoes to fill after President Roosevelt’s historic New Deal. One of those shoes to fill was America’s changing culture and an increased sense of expectations. Some of those expectations included an increase in funding for public education. Many education advocates at the time felt as if public education needed increased funding in order to prepare all Americans for post WWII life. Though President Truman supported President Roosevelt’s New Deal, during his presidency he was a fiscal conservative who questioned federal involvement in state education and thought that his presidency was not a time for “experiments.” According to President Truman:
When I say I am opposed to Federal control of the schools, I mean I am opposed to control by any officer or department of the Federal Government, whether it be the United States Office of Education, the Federal Security Agency, or any other bureau or official. I, therefore, do not understand how the relationship between any of these offices or agencies is of any relevance to the problem of keeping the schools of America free of Federal control. (Harry S. Truman Library & Museum).
Delilah W. Pierce was the chairman of public affairs for the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa at the time and is on record, according to the National Education Association of the United States, as asking the 81st Congress to pass an adequate federal-aid-to-education bill. Delilah W. Pierce and Phi Delta Kappa:
[F]avored federal aid to education under state and local control, to assist the states in…equalizing educational opportunity for all the youth of our nation regardless of race or creed.
Learn more about: Today’s Education, Volume 39.
Delilah W. Pierce hosted a planning meeting of the Phi Delta Kappa sorority at her home in the Washington, DC Gold Coast – A nickname for the community of Washington, DC’s African American elite. At the time, the president was Mr. Olivia Henry, educator and fierce advocate for African American young people understanding the importance of education.
Click to view: Mrs. Henry Aids Conclave Plans.
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.
Author Helen Tierney published a cannon of female African American painters. In her anthology she covered the wider expressions of African American female artists. Delilah W. Pierce was included in the cannon. Ms. Tierney explored some of the core “emotions” of African American art: celebration, grief, anger, and pride. Check out Helen Tierney’s The Women’s Studies Encyclopedia.
Delilah W. Pierce dedicated her life to fighting for equal rights for women, equal education, and fairness for people of color. Her art expressed that notion. Author Robert Henkes created a cannon for African American women artists and their expressions.
From the pages of The Art of Black Women:
African American women artists have fought both racism and prejudice. Their works, remarkably varied in style, expression and medium, reflect the sensitivity and integrity that is, in part, a product of this struggle. The art of 24 African American women are examined: Lois Mailou Jones, Shirley Woodson, Howardena Pindell, Vivian Browne, Norma Morgan, Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis, Elizabeth Catlett, Jewel Simon, Faith Ringgold, Emma Amos, Robin Holder, Cynthia Hawkins, Camille Billops, Delilah Pierce, Yvonne Catchings, Gilda Snowden, Malkia Roberts, Ann Tanksley, Alma Woodsey Thomas, Clementine Hunter, Viola Burley Leak, Mary Reed Daniel, Adell Westbrook, and Nanette Carter. Their work is allied to various schools of art, from expressionism to realism.
Find out how you can read Robert Henkes book The Art of Black American Women: Works of Twenty-four Artists of The Twentieth Century
The Washington Water Color Association is holding its Spring Art Exhibition from March 5 to May 31 2013 at the Woman’s National Democratic Club. Delilah was an active member during her life and regularly exhibited. Delilah W. Pierce served as their Vice President 1974 ‑ 1976, Treasurer 1978 to 1983, Board Member 1974 ‑ 1983, Elected Honorary Member and Exhibits Chairman in 1983.