Elijah Pierce (1892-1984) was an internationally recognized woodcarver/folk artist. Mr. Pierce began carving wood as a young boy on the Baldwyn, Mississippi, farm where he was born in 1892. In the early 1920s, he carved a small elephant for his wife as a gift. In response to her affection for the animal, he promised her an entire zoo and continued to carve free-standing animals throughout his career. Mr. Pierce arrived in Columbus, Ohio, in 1924, where he lived and worked for 60 years until his retirement in 1980.
For most of his life, Mr. Pierce earned his living as a barber in a two-room barber shop which he built on this site in 1954. The shop also served as the gallery to display his carvings. Also a licensed preacher, Mr. Pierce often told stories that contained important lessons about life, and often used his carvings to illustrate a fable, proverb, or Bible story. In addition to the religious focus, secular themes such as politics, current affairs, sports, his autobiography, and his menagerie were included in his repertoire.
Elijah Pierce did not seek fame, but his work won recognition in art exhibitions and has been displayed in art galleries and museums throughout the world. He is recognized as one of America's leading folk artists.
This statue, created by Steven Weilzman, was commissioned by Columbus State Community College and dedicated on November 9, 2000 to, honor the life of Elijah Pierce.