Elijah Pierce was recognized as America's foremost wood carver of 20th century folk art by Dr. Robert Bishop, founding Director of the Museum of American Folk Art. The artist was born in Baldwin, Mississippi, where he was raised on a farm. Elijah began to carve at the age of seven. His maternal uncle, Lewis Wallace, was a chair and basket maker. He taught Elijah how to work with wood. He also enjoyed baseball and dancing. In 1920, Elijah was issued a preacher's license. Pierce followed his girlfriend, Cornelia Houeston to Columbus in 1923, where he became a barber and married Cornelia. During the 1930s and 1940s, he preached throughout the Midwest and South during the summers at carnivals and fairs. He often brought his carvings along with him to use as teaching tools.
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