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  • Delilah W. Pierce

Callaloo ·Art 2016 (Volume 39, No. 5) listed the incorrect location for the Delilah W. Pierce: Natural Perspective exhibition. The Arts Program of the University of Maryland University College mounted the exhibition Delilah W. Pierce: Natural Perspective from September 27, 2015 through January 3, 2016. The online version has been updated.

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In the Studio (Self-Portrait) (n.d.)


Courtesy of Wanda Spence & Eric Key. Photographed by John Woo.

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Inspired by nature and the world around us, colors, patterns, forms, shapes and spaces … my paintings have been an exploration of developing a visual language to communicate what I see and feel.

Delilah W. Pierce

Delilah Williams Pierce, a native born Washingtonian, has been described as a visual artist, educator, advocate, and curator. She graduated from Dunbar School and Minor Teachers College, and she received the BS degree from Howard University and the MA degree from Teachers College-Columbia University. Later she did additional graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago. She taught art in the public schools of Washington, DC, as well as at the University of the District of Columbia and Howard University, where she served as a visiting professor. Delilah Pierce was a member of Washington's Little Paris Group, 1948, which sponsored annual exhibitions. Alma Thomas and other local artists were also a member of the Little Paris Group, which met once a week with Loïs Mailou Jones and Céline Marie Tabary, a visiting artist from France, to work on their craft. Her paintings have been exhibited at a number of venues, such as Corcoran Gallery, the Hampton University Museum, the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum, the Howard University Gallery, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and more recently, in the solo exhibition Delilah W. Pierce: Natural Perspective, at the Arts Program, the University of Maryland, September, 2015-January, 2016.

Delilah Pierce was also a local, national, and international activist for social, political, and cultural causes; she was very active in supporting civil, human, and gender rights for all people, as well as in promoting visual arts among all social and economic classes. That Delilah Pierce was a political activist for justice is further supported, not only by her work on local and national issues, but also by the international work she did during her travel, supported by an Agnes Meyer Fellowship, with a group of African American women (clergy, business owners, and educators) who departed the USA in June of 1962. One of their aims was to speak with Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and to visit a number of other countries in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. This organized group of African American women, who were widely known as committed advocates for racial equality and workers' rights in the USA, wanted especially to speak with the Ethiopian leader about his country's war against the people of Eritrea who, like other African peoples at that time, were demanding their independence from European countries—ironically, in the instance of Eritrea, from another African country, Ethiopia. Unfortunately, they were not able to speak with him. But Pierce's memories of the landscapes of these important regions of the world served her well in the production of her artworks. The natural world of the US American Northeast and parks of Washington, DC, also figure dynamically as a subject in her paintings. As a painter, she was known mainly for both abstract and figurative work, the latter of which focused largely on landscapes, still life, and portraits.


Her mastery of a variety of styles worked against the sustained development of the kind of distinctive body of work that would have captured the attention of curators at major institutions.

from IRAAA [End Page 1044]

Delilah Pierce was a very close colleague and friend of two renowned women artists, Loïs Mailou Jones and Alma Thomas, but Pierce's paintings never received the local or national recognition afforded her two friends. However, shortly before she passed, the University of the District of Columbia bestowed upon Delilah Pierce an honorary doctorate, and she also received the Purchase Award of the American...


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