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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.
Known as the Gold Coast, the upper NW Washington, DC neighborhood is well respected for its affluent African American dwellers. Joseph and Delilah W. Pierce were among the select group.
Delilah and her Gold Coast dwellers had a club called The Neighbors and they regularly got together to socialize, especially during the holiday. It was an annual event at Fort McNair. Many in the African American social elite considered The Neighbors holiday party to be the season kickoff event.
Click to read: Bright and Jolly – I’m Cutting Holly By Nikki Nakatani.
Phi Delta Kappa was not only interested in making an impact on education in America, they also focused efforts on making an international impact. In 1952 they sent between 500 to 700 books to Liberia. During that time, Phi Delta Kappa also sent more than 1,500 books to, “their children’s reading room in Monrovia,” according to Mrs. Helen W. Maxwell, national chairman of the organization’s Liberian Project. But their service and commitment to education internationally didn’t stop there. According to Edna A. Davis, the sorority’s eastern region’s representative to Bard College 1952 Summer Institute on Human Relations, Phi Delta Kappa planned to send Delilah W. Pierce to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) https://en.unesco.org in Paris. There is not any known published information at this point if that project ever occurred.
Learn more about the: Phi Delta Kappa’s Service Projects in 1952.
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 Participates In District of Columbia Appropriation Bill For 1941 Hearings Before The Subcommittee Of The Committee On Appropriations United States Senate
As a member of the Phi Delta Kappa Sorority, Delilah W. Pierce fought so that Washington, DC and all underserved school districts, including rural districts, could receive appropriate funding for public education.
Delilah W. Pierce and her life with Joseph Pierce highlighted in The Afro American’s column Pearlie’s Prattle.
Learn more by reading: Pearlie’s Prattle.
According to The Afro American, Delilah W. Pierce was selected as the head of Phi Delta Kappa. Delilah was very active in her sorority and believed that education was the key to progress.
Click to read the article: Phi Delts Select.
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.
The June 12, 1937 issue of The Afro American mentions Delilah W. Pierce as attending the surprise baby shower of Gladys S. Roberts. Delilah was very active in the Phi Delta Kappa Sorority.
Click to view: Ms. Gladys S. Roberts Surprised With Shower.