Carved and painted folk art wood plaque, attributed to Elijah Pierce (1892-1984), depicting a male and female couple standing face to face and holding hands. Unsigned. 10 5/8" H x 7 1/4" W. Biography: Pierce was the son of a former slave and was born in Mississippi. He began carving as a young child and eventually became a barber as a young man in Barbour, MS. He additionally gained his preacher's license in 1920. After the death of his first wife in childbirth, Pierce moved north to Columbus, Ohio where he married for a second time in 1923 and continued to practice his trade as a barber. After gifting a carved elephant to his second wife Cornelia who expressed great delight in his gift, Pierce began to carve more frequently. He carved throughout his life and was eventually befriended by Boris Gruenwald, a sculptor and graduate student at Ohio State University. Gruenwald became a promoter of Pierce's art and help to organize exhibitions in galleries of his work including the Krannert Art Museum, the Phyllis Kind Gallery of New York, the National Museum of American Art, and the Renwick Gallery. Pierce would go on to win first prize in the International Meeting of Naive Art in Zagreb, Yugoslavia and in 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a National Heritage Fellowship as one of 15 master traditional artists. After his death, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Performing and Cultural Arts Complex recognized his work by naming the Elijah Pierce Gallery in his honor. The Columbus Museum of Art now owns over 300 of Pierce's pieces in their collection. (Adapted from: https://www.cscc.edu/elijahpierce/bio.htm).
Private Cincinnati, Ohio estate.
Unsigned. Overall good condition with some natural wood fissures and minor losses including one to the upper margin of the male figure's shirt.