Local Artist Love: Michael-Birch Pierce


Blue Elephant is now selling pieces by local artist Michael-Birch Pierce! I first came across Michael-Birch's work at the DIYFest Strange Matter held last spring. While I didn't get into his embroidery workshop, his display was memorable to me because of his use of mixed media and quirky subject matters. Following are a few photos of his work and a Q&A. And make sure to come in and check out the collection!

Q Where are you from?

A I was born and raised in Fredericksburg. It's a great little town but I just cannot handle living there. I moved to Richmond in 2003 to get my BFA in Fashion Design from VCU. I fell in love with it and would have stayed if it weren't for grad school.

Q What's your favorite thing about Richmond?

A The people. I have met some of my best friends and the love of my life in Richmond. But on a larger scale, Richmond's art, music, and local business communities are all so tight-knit and make it such an exciting city in which to live. I love going to First Fridays, or a concert, or walking around Carytown and always running into someone I know while at the same time, always meeting new people.

Q Masters in Fibers? Where will that lead to?

A I love fashion design but in undergrad, I discovered I really loved designing my own textiles, prints, and embroideries. After a stint working for a menswear company as a textile designer, I decided I needed a better education in Fibers to further my career. SCAD has an amazing program and great connections that will hopefully lead to a job designing textiles in New York or possibly even as a college professor.

Q What gives you inspiration?

A A lot of my work is based on a play with words. I'm really inspired by a good pun. I draw from all sorts of different things like coral reefs, botanical illustrations, snapshots, pop culture, and comic books.

Q Any weird quirks when you're working on a piece?
James Franco-Stein

A I get into marathon TV and DVD sessions while I embroider. I've recently completed full seasons of Dexter, True Blood, Pushing Daisies, and Buffy. And this summer I watched all six seasons of LOST back to back. Embroidering takes so much time that I can watch an entire season in a day and a half.

Q What kind of things do you collect?

A I used to collect all sorts of things as a kid, but now the biggest collections I have are of shoes and deep v-neck t-shirts. What I collect most consistently would be art supplies, but I seem to use them faster than I acquire them.

Q Who are some of your favorite artists?

A I am completely obsessed with Alphonse Mucha. Art Nouveau just speaks to me in a way that no other art movement has. I also love Gaudi, Clyfford Still, Polly Apfelbaum, Mim Golub Scalin, and Maurizio Anzeri.

Q Why is art important to you?

A Art is pretty much my only marketable skill. It's just always been such a huge part of my life that I think I would die if I couldn't make art, learn about art, and experience art every day. From the age of four, I knew that I was meant to be an artist and I didn't really have a choice in the matter.
Lisa Frankenstein

Q How do you define art?

A Art is something that arouses emotion in its audience. It makes you think, it makes you laugh, it leaves you dumbfounded and disgusted. Art is anything born from the creative soul of a person with the intention of evoking a visceral reaction.

Q Anything else you'd like to share?

A Everyone should check out my blog, A Year in Stitches! Every week I take a snapshot or image from the preceding week in my life and embroider it. I tell the stories behind the artwork and compare and contrast the finished piece to the original shot. I've gotten a few weeks behind since starting grad school, but hopefully I should be caught back up soon! People can also follow the blog on Twitter for updates (@ayearinstitches).

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