Visiting an artist’s studio is a precious gift, and visiting the studio of fiber artist Michael-Birch Pierce is a special kind of awesome. His studio, in an old warehouse on Mayo Island in the middle of the falls of the James River in Richmond, Virginia, is a sensuous experience. Shimmering crystals and sequins spill from every surface, and sumptuous fur, velvet and lace are piled in every corner. Michael-Birch uses these materials in his work, drawing on his background in fashion design to exquisitely craft sculptural pieces that challenge to viewer to think deeply about the identity that we wear. At the same time, Michael-Birch recognizes the courage of vulnerability as a way to claim who we are and connect authentically with others.
Michael-Birch’s lush and revealing work is a part of the current costume and textiles exhibition at The Valentine, Our Hearts on Our Sleeves. The brilliant Kristen Stewart, curator of the show, joined me in his studio for a joyful conversation about art.
Paige hosts the LookSEE podcast and is a freelance audio producer, an art lover, and a lifelong Richmonder. Her favorite place to be is in a museum. A close second is a bookstore.