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Your Life Is a Book and Every Day Is a Page

1973 Elijah Pierce Born: Baldwyn, Mississippi 1892 Died: Columbus, Ohio 1984 carved and painted wood with glitter 17 3/4 x 27 1/8 x 1 1/4 in. (45.1 x 68.9 x 3.2 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.261 Not currently on view

Luce Center Quote

"I'd carve anything that was a picture in my mind, I thought a pocket knife was about the best thing I'd ever seen." Elijah Pierce, quoted in Steve Berry, "Artist carved niche in world," Columbus Dispatch, May 1984

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Elijah Pierce believed we have to live our lives properly every single day in order to achieve salvation. He claimed to have many visions, and this carving shows one in which God said to him: "Elijah, your life is a book. And every day is a page . . . and one day that book will be read to you and you can't deny it because you’ve written it" (June Donmoyer, "Elijah Pierce: Woodcarver," Antique Review Preview, August 1985, and Judith Fradin, "Adapting to the New World," Footsteps, n.d.). Pierce carved an eye and an ear in the top corner of the panel to show that God is all-knowing, while the two angels in paradise represent God's reward for the faithful.


Allegory - religion - salvation

Ethnic - African-American

Figure group

Object - flower

Religion - angel


folk art