At an early age, Elijah Pierce learned the art of whittling and carving from his uncle at his home near Baldwyn, Mississippi. He later trained as a barber and received his preacher's license before moving to Danville, Illinois in the early 1920s. He eventually settled in Columbus, Ohio, where he operated barber shop, where he also installed a woodworking shop. His carved panels were often decorated with bright paint and glitter and depicted a wide range of subjects, from biblical scenes to representations of celebrated African Americans. Pierce's reputation grew steadily in the 1970s and he was able to devote himself full-time to his art. In 1982 he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He died in 1984.
For a related example see Roger Ricco, Frank Maresca and Julie Weissman, American Primitive: Discoveries in Folk Sculpture (New York, 1988), pp. 264-265, fig. 377.