About Michael A Pierce
Born 1950. Virginia, USA. As early as I can remember I've been drawing. At first I drew mainly on the end-papers of the books - especially that set of encyclopedias my mom and dad got from the traveling salesman.
In my early teens, I spent Wednesdays during my summers off from school going with my grandmother to the weekly meetings of the Culpeper Art Group, in rural Virginia. These mostly older women were doing batik, Japanese sumi painting, splashing enamel paints on old boards, drawing still lifes, doing hard edge abstractions, painting Culpeper's historical buildings before they got torn down, and on and on. I have scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings about these old ladies and their art.
While attending VCU Art School, in the early 1970s I was part of the Floyd Avenue Cultural Center, a group of artists making movies, creating happenings, etc. In the 70s and early 80s I took staged and found-object photographs and created slide shows as backdrops for bands playing music in an abandoned convent for the Little Sisters of the Poor.
In the mid-80s I met John Morgan who was then teaching art at VMFA and began using oil pastels. As first I drew mainly food and rabbits and people.
Then between 1991 and 2000 I basically stopped making art. I was tired of people asking me to draw their pets or their portraits. Ron, my partner of over 45 years now, and I bought our first house together. Instead of art making, I channeled my creativity into the house, my relationship, and into my day-job in human resources.
In early 2000 I began drawing men - mainly men kissing other men. I believe its important for people to see men kissing. We have Rodins kiss, and it's a man and woman naked in embrace and kissing. But we dont have images of men kissing.
From 2004 - 2005 I completed a series that I called Simple Equations (after a song title by a British group named Madness). These large oil pastel and graphite pieces addressed the power of shadows and how they allow us to see lightness. They were derived from found photographs. The main pieces were based on news photos of Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson; they are the two young men who murdered Matthew Sheppard, a gay college student, in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. These were large oil pastel drawings, mostly 43 x 43, sometimes paired with printed text. The words weren't meant to be captions, but they did help tell the story. I wanted people to have to look at Aaron and Russell's faces, but I also wanted them to know what they did. I exhibted this work in the summer of 2004. Then in the fall of 2006 I was asked to show them again in Holy Comforter Episcopal Church during a service of hope and remembrance. In 2018, I brought this series of work back together to accompany the Richmond Triangle Player's production of The Laramie Project.
Today, I continue to often address male sexual identity in my work. From "Let's pretend we're bunny rabbits" in 2007 to my 2010 master's thesis show with paintings and drawings of pansies in my show, "In my Busby Berkeley Dreams."
In addition, the focus on rabbits has continued as I've explored the use of more diverse materials in the work and continued to mine that loaded image.
Please contact Michael A. Pierce at email@example.com for additional information and purchase inquiries.