VCUarts Fashion professor Michael-Birch Pierce has embroidered ornaments for the Obama White House and been featured at events at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, Quirk Hotel and Art Basel. His portraits provide a one-on-one experience between the person being drawn and the artist himself.

“While I’m making the portrait, we talk about why they’re there and their connection to sewing; we might have a conversation about a memory of watching their grandmother sew quilts,” Pierce says. “I am studying intimately every line of this stranger’s face, and that gaze tears down walls.”

Though Pierce likes to keep the focus on the sitter, attention inevitably turns to the artist himself. One can’t help but be mesmerized by the fast but gentle movement of his hands as he works the line of the thread to depict the person seated in front of him. At the 2018 Oscars party, he found himself seated with actresses Marcia Gay Harden and Camryn Manheim. “You’re a genius,” they told him. Pierce was flattered, but he wanted to focus on them. “They are literal geniuses,” he says, gushing. Besides, Pierce says, “talking about me is not necessarily my interest.

Read the full article in Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Image: Michael-Birch Pierce works in his studio in Richmond. Credit via Richmond Times-Dispatch. 


January 3, 2019