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AROUND TOWN

November 5, 2020

The Barnes is Back

The Barnes Foundation, one of the city’s most renowned arts and cultural institutions, has, like many local arts venues, been shuttered for months because of the pandemic. However, with lots of new safety and social distancing guidelines in place, the Barnes is finally reopened, ready to entertain and educate—and it’s just minutes from your The Hamilton apartment.

The first big exhibit that marks the reopening is “Elijah Pierce’s America,” on view through mid-January at the museum. The exhibit showcases the work of Elijah Pierce, a self-taught woodcarver who was active in the mid-1900s. His intricately carved pieces are influenced by religion, politics and his own unique life story, presenting a fascinating look at early 20th century American life from the Black perspective. Pierce was a barber by trade and also worked as a preacher in Ohio. He didn’t work with top-of-the-line materials: He would use everything from random, aged popular planks to chunks of lumber.

Pierce was among the first generations of African-Americans born into freedom, which dictates much of the narrative of his work. Pierce’s own father was enslaved early in life, and pieces including a depiction of a slave auction illustrate the role that history had on him.  Pierce worked until late in life and some of his pieces also provide commentary on more recent political situations, such as the scandals surrounding President Richard Nixon. The exhibit features more than 100 pieces, including his “Preaching Stick.” The pool stick was carved over a number of years, depicting personal stories told to Pierce from the clients in his barber shop.

In addition to seeing the exhibit for yourself at the museum, a half-mile from your The Hamilton apartment, there are also a number of related programs you can take in to enhance the experience, such as the Dec. 14 “Facing Change: Race as a Social Construct.” The kickoff of a new series on race relations in America, the event features artists, scholars and community activists discussing historic and present-day issues, including those that fueled Pierce’s work.

Check out the schedule today and plan your visit to take in this eye-opening new exhibit.

The Barnes Foundation

2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Philadelphia, PA 19130

215-278-7000