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Meet Missy Pierce in Delray Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Missy Pierce.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I create multi-media art that explores the nature of identity. I work between 2-D and 3-D forms to create paintings, mosaics, assemblage and artist books. A lot of my work addresses belonging and isolation as I am fascinated by multi-cultural issues and the complicated sense of identity within each of us.

Currently, I am in the middle of an artist residency at The Arts Warehouse in Delray Beach, Florida and can usually be found there painting unless I’m working off-site on a public art commission for another city. Before moving my studio to Delray Beach, I was an artist in residence at the Bailey Contemporary Art Center (BaCA) in Pompano Beach, Florida.

I am represented by a great gallery–Rosenbaum Fine Art (RFA Decor) in Boca Raton, as well as by the Arts Warehouse in Delray Beach, Florida. My art has been part of international art projects, including a collaborative mural in Avignon, France, as well as exhibitions based in New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, and Brazil. In the summer, I teach art in Sicily and Lucca, Italy, and occasionally I will teach a local art workshop in Florida.

After getting my Bachelor of Arts Degree, I obtained a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. I practiced law as an attorney in California for a decade before moving to Florida to work as an artist. I trained as an artist in Les Angles, France; Portland, Oregon; Berkeley, California; as well as at the Jaffe Center at FAU and the Museum of Art School in Boca Raton, Florida.

Has it been a smooth road?
I would say my biggest career challenge has been reigning in my passion and settling on one path.

My interests are so varied; they run from beekeeping to civil rights, from brain science to migration, and so on. This is probably why I jumped into so many wonky careers before I became an artist. Instead of studying art, I studied constitutional law and became a civil rights lawyer. Then, I studied mental health policy and became an educator and contributing editor. Before that, I studied advertising and became a copywriter. I even worked as a technical writer for a couple of years–talk about boring!

In truth, none of these paths were completely satisfying. No matter what I did, it felt like something was missing. It was not until I became a full-time artist that I realized that an art practice could feed all of my interests–and unleash my creativity as well.

Today, I use art to blur the line between the familiar and the bizarre. The subject matter fueling this path is limitless. One day, I may find myself researching political polarization around issues like gender or consumerism. Another day, I may track the appropriation of a meme leading me into the twisted world of Dadaist Art. Or I may dive into a 1910 study on bee anatomy for an entirely different focus on bees as a symbol of a divine sisterhood. Often my explorations return to issues of identity and displacement; The idea of living in two different worlds has always intrigued me–probably because I grew up influenced by two starkly different cultures.

Anyway, when an issue grabs me, I dive in deep. I research and analyze it until it crystallizes… and prompts me to create imagery to tell its story. And because my subject matter is always evolving, my career as an artist has been completely satisfying.

Please tell us more about your artwork, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
My artwork speaks to the multi-cultural audience of South Florida–especially as we wrestle here with the idea of what is ‘exotic.’

When I create, I am often exploring issues of identity. Lately, this subject has taken center stage in my artwork as I watch border tensions escalate around the word and immigration policies shift in this country. As a product of mixed heritage myself, my creative objective is to capture, contrast and combine the different traditions, designs, colors, and sounds that collide within us as we form our own identities.

Because I understand what it means to feel “misplaced” or awkward in the cultures of both parents, I realize it is these differences that form who we are and what makes us interesting. At the same time, these differences serve to divide us into a world of “us and them.” This tension between isolation and belonging is what I have been exploring in my artwork this year.

Recently, I developed a collection of artwork that forms a series I call “Misplaced.” In this work, I juxtapose unrelated symbols from dissimilar cultures. In part, I contrast the sensuality of life that I experienced in the lush Caribbean tropics with life in the desiccated landscape of a small desert town in the American Southwest. I use symbolic elements from these places, such as a border wall of tumbleweeds and anthropomorphic cacti (“My Sisters”) wading gingerly in the Caribbean sea or posing stiffly while shimmering in the silver of the night-time desert (“Family Portrait”).

My art not only intersects my own mixed heritage, but it also appeals to all of us who are seeking to find a way to carry our richly diverse backgrounds into our everyday existence. I think my artwork particularly resonates in Miami because more than half of its residents are foreign-born. Most of our Southern Florida households (74%) speak a language other than English at home.

What’s your outlook for the industry in our city?
Miami is an exciting place to be an emerging artist. Art Basel, the biggest art fair in this country, takes over this city and shakes it up every year. Seeing some of the most spectacular artwork in the world on display in our Florida backyard is phenomenal.

Because there are so many satellite fairs, its relatively easy for a newcomer to become part of it all–albeit on a much smaller scale than those paying for prized turf at the main convention center.

I remember holding my first solo exhibition during Art Basel week of 2013. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, and the art-world energy converging in South Beach was beyond intense.

Even though it took me months to recover from all that forced extroversion, it was worth it. Really, where else can a newbie artist spot a collector like Leonardo DiCaprio at her first solo exhibition?

Contact Info:

  • Address: Missy Pierce, Studio One
    Arts Warehouse of Delray Beach, FL
    313 NE 3d Street, Delray Beach Florida
  • Website: www.missypierce.com
  • Phone: 5037030496
  • Email: pierce.missy@yahoo.com
  • Instagram: @missy.pierce


Image Credit:
Marty Lee

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