Title of Work
Date of Work
35mm slide, digitized 2020
James Smith Pierce Collection: Folk and Outsider Image 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.
E.M. Bailey, 1903-1987, was an African American artist who spent most of his life and career in Atlanta, Georgia. Working as a cement mason, Bailey filled his house with paintings and sculptures. Bailey is best known for his concrete sculptures which turned his yard into an outdoor sculpture garden in inner-city Atlanta. Bailey built his first yard sculpture in 1945, and continued to do so until 1974. His work often reflected politics, race, and pop culture of the US. His occupation making headstones influenced his work, which frequently portrayed motifs significant to Afro-Christianity and funerary traditions. A memorial to JFK laments the death of a president who gave many in the African American community hope. Bailey’s last sculpture was a monument to how much had changed for black Americans during his lifetime. Depicting Henry Aaron’s historic 715th home run, Bailey finished the sculpture the night a black athlete topped one of America’s longest standing athletic records.
Constructed of concrete, Bailey’s sculptures were originally painted vibrantly, however, exposed to the elements, they gradually faded to bleached white. Bailey did not receive widespread recognition during his lifetime. After his death, his sculptures were removed from the property. Many of his paintings and smaller sculptures have been preserved, but his larger works no longer exist. His work has been exhibited at the Rockford Art Museum, the Diggs Gallery, and others, and are also held in the permanent collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
This image depicts Bailey standing next to one of his concert sculptures, an ostrich. Emblematic of Bailey’s fantastical style, the ostrich’s long neck meets its body in an off-center way, based on life-like forms, yet slightly unhinged.
Image is provided for educational purposes only. © University of North Dakota. All rights reserved.
35 mm slide in excellent condition.