Michael A Pierce
About Michael A Pierce
Born 1950. Virginia, USA. As early as I can remember Ive 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 teens, I spent Wednesdays during my summers off from school going with my grandmother to the weekly meetings of the Culpeper Art Group. They were doing batik, Japanese sumi painting, splashing enamel paints on old boards, drawing still lifes, doing hard edge abstractions, painting Culpepers historical buildings before they got torn down, and on and on. I have scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings about these old ladies. In the early 70s I got involved in 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 to entertain guests invited to my home. I also used some of these slide shows as backdrops for bands playing music at Little Sisters of the Poor. In the mid-80s I met John Morgan and began using oil pastels. As first I drew mainly food and rabbits and people. 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 almost 40 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 its 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 each 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 werent meant to be captions, but they did help tell the story. I wanted people to have to look at Aaron and Russells faces, but I also wanted them to know what they did. I showed these pieces at artSpace@plantzero in the summer of 2004. Then in the fall of 2006 I was asked to show them in Holy Comforter Episcopal Church during a service of hope and remembrance. Today, I continue to address male sexual idenity. That's what was in my show "Let's pretend we're bunny rabbits in 2007 was about. In 2010 I continued down that path in my master's thesis show with paintings and drawings of pansies in my show, "In my Busby Berkeley Dreams." And the focus on rabbits has continued as I've explored the use of more diverse materials in the work.
1972 BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University
2010 Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Studio Arts from the School of Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.
Additional Grad study at the Visual Studies Workshop at State University of New York, Rochester, NY
Currently painting professor at John Tyler Community College, Richmond, VA
Currently VP for membership of artspace gallery in Richmond, VA, USA
Emeritus artist member of 1708 Gallery, Richmond, VA, USA
Exhibited widely along East coast.