Title of Work
Date of Work
Art & Design Study Collection: James Smith Pierce Collection
UND Art Collections Repository
Born in Brooklyn, New York, James Smith Pierce received his PhD in art history from Harvard University. During his career as a professor, Pierce also became an accomplished artist, whose artworks were included in important exhibitions (including a show on land art at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC) and books on contemporary earthworks and site-specific sculpture. Pierce was also a photographer, exhibition curator, and art collector.
William Love Nelson
Not much is known about the life of outsider artist William Love Nelson. He was born in 1895, in Green County Kentucky. He would spend his entire life in rural Kentucky. A tobacco farmer by trade, Nelson began sculpting to honor his son, James William Nelson. Pfc. who died at the age of 22 during WW2 while serving in Germany. Pfc. Nelson was with an infantry unit with Gen. Patton's Third Army, and was killed in a bombing raid in the Rhine River Valley.
Nelson’s sculptures are made out of wood or cement. When asked why he started making them, he replied that he “just took it up.” They depict various human figures and scenes from rural life. The sculptures were typically hollow, and made with an internal wire structure. The monument to his son is a touching homemade testament to a tragic wartime loss. When asked if a statue of a large woman was one of his girlfriends, he replied “I reckon.” Some of his sculptures were vandalized in the early 80’s. It is unknown if any of his sculptures survive. He is also known to have done assorted woodworking including a picture frame in honor of John F. Kennedy. Nelson died in 1988.
Images are provided for educational purposes only. © University of North Dakota. All rights reserved.
Original slide in very good condition. Digitally preserved 2020.