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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
Delilah W. Pierce is mentioned in Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance Era. In the chapter about close friend, Lois Mailou Jones, artist, it was said that it was her membership in The District of Columbia Art Association (DCAA) that, “provided long-standing bonds with such artists as Delilah W. Pierce, Peter L. Robinson Jr…and Alma Thomas.”
Read more: Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance Era.
Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance was edited by Lean’tin L. Bracks and Jessie Carney Smith. It was published in 2014 by Rowman & Littlefield.
Delilah W. Pierce in Smithsonian Year: Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year Ended September 30
Delilah W. Pierce was very involved with the Smithsonian Institution throughout her life. In 1992 Delilah was published in: Delilah W. Pierce in Smithsonian Year: Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year Ended September 30. The author was the Smithsonian Institution and was published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 1992.
Delilah W. Pierce Exhibited At A Tribute For The First African American Painter Of Note – Lois Mailou Jones At Martin Luther King Library, 1979
In February of 1979 Delilah W. Pierce was asked to exhibit at a tribute to artist Lois Mailou Jones (November 3, 1905 – June 9, 1998) held at the Martin Luther King Library in Washington, DC. Lois Mailou Jones and Delilah W. Pierce were more than peers in the visual arts. They both summered and have homes on Martha’s Vineyard Island, and in Washington, DC, they traveled the world together to share their talents with the international community; and were advocates of education, women’s rights, civil rights, and human rights. Ms. Jones is also buried in Oak Bluffs Cemetery (Martha’s Vineyard) where they both remain a fixture in the rich history of that island. Lois Mailou Jones was a leader in expanding black art perceptions, and art perceptions as a whole.
Afro American reporter Charles Hall wrote in his 1979 article:
“More and more, she [Lois Mailou Jones] is being called America’s first black female painter of note. Edmonia Lewis, sculptor, Augusta Savage, sculptor, and Laura Waring, portraitist, were among the women who preceded her and proves their skills in several media.
None, however, dealt exclusively and masterfully with all phases of painting.”
Ms. Jones’ paintings can be found at The Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, DC), and in Dr. Bill Cosby’s private collection to name a few.
- Lois Mailou Jones exhibit features ‘Black Women’ By Charles Hall (Baltimore Afro-American)
- Who is Lois Mailou Jones?
- Delilah W. Pierce Very Much Part Of Black Arts Movement: Expanding Black Identity Perceptions
- Delilah W. Pierce Mentioned In Recent Martha’s Vineyard Magazine Article
- Delilah W Pierce Featured In: Six Washington Masters
- Delilah W. Pierce Featured In The Art of Black American Women
Zita Cousens is the owner of the Cousen Rose Gallery located in Oak Bluffs, MA on the famed Circuit Avenue. Ms. Cousens was recently interviewed by the Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. In her article she discusses how Delilah W. Pierce and her dear friend Lois Mailou Jones, artist were among the first exhibitors. Please read her article: Zita Cousens: Her Oak Bluffs gallery is in its thirtieth year and going strong. Delilah held exhibitions their from 1980 to 1992. She was very involved in the Martha’s Vineyard art community, holding exhibitions from 1960 to 1992 at the Cousen Rose and Old Sculpin galleries to name a few. Delilah W. Pierce and her family have vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard for 5 generations.
To view more about Delilah W. Pierce and the history of African Americans on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket please view: African-Americans on Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket. The book was authored by Robert C. and Karen E. Hayden, and published by Select Publications and the University of Wisconsin – Madison, 1999.
Delilah W. Pierce and Alma Thomas were professional peers and friends. According to the Smithsonian Institutes Archives of American Art their relationship was captured in the Alma Thomas papers, 1894-2000, in her Little Paris Group, 1948. The Little Paris Group, as described in the archives:
Met once a week with Miles Celine Tabary and Lois Jones, developing skills and tyles circulating in at least six exhibition works a year. The annual exhibit was one of the highlights of the season, looked forward to the art lovers of the Washington community. (In the catalog of the District -Columbia Art Association, Exhibition, on back of the forward page.)
Visit the Archives of American Art to learn more about: The Little Paris Group, 1948.
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
Delilah W. Pierce was not only an artist, she was an activist, educator and community leader. Ms. Pierce believed in supporting historically black institutions. She had exhibitions at the Howard University Gallery in 1960, 1963, 1964, 1966, and 1976. Delilah W. Pierce’s Gay Head Cliffs is among their permanent collection. Visit the Howard University Gallery as soon as you can!
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