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Archaeologist's Interest in Native Cultures Sparks Best of Show Artwork

August 21, 2019

Daniel Pierce for web


A question-and-answer interview with Warrenton, Mo., resident Daniel Pierce, who earned Best of Show honors at the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre for his "Celebrating Heritage" contest entry, "Meanwhile in Xingu." See all the winning pieces HERE.

Q: Where are you from; where do you live?


A: “I was born and raised in Jefferson County, just south of St. Louis. About nine years ago, I moved to Warrenton, Missouri, where I have been ever since.”

Q: How many times have you entered an arts contest at the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre?

A: “I have entered an arts contest at the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre only once before, about two years ago. I believe the theme of that one was ‘Tourist Attractions.’”


Q: Was this your first Best of Show winner?


A: “I have received Best of Show a few times before. Most recently, at a show at the Soulard Arts Gallery a few months ago.”

Q: What was your response when you learned you won at St. Peters?

A: “Truthfully, I was quite surprised. More often than not, black and white mediums don’t do as well in juried exhibitions. Often they are passed over for more colorful mediums. I know I work in a more classical style and I don’t really follow trends in the art world. So I never really expect my work to be noticed too much. But I’d rather create pieces I like, even if no one else likes them, than to create pieces that might get more attention but I myself don’t really enjoy. That’s when art becomes a job rather than your passion.”



Daniel Pierce's winning artwork, "Meanwhile In Xingu"


Q: How did “Meanwhile in Xingu” come to mind?


A: “I am an archaeologist by profession so I have always been very interested in native cultures. And I have always been inspired by the Xingu National Park in Brazil. There, numerous Amazonian indigenous tribes still live in their traditional ways.”


Q: What was your inspiration for the piece?


A: “In my piece I wanted to remind people that while we go about our crazy, busy lives and are surrounded by so much negativity in the world, it doesn’t have to be this way. While we sit and consume our days with Facebook, toxic news stories, driving from here to there, working long days in an office, etc., somewhere out there, people are living a simpler life, and they are just as (if not more so) happy.”


Q: What does your work say?


A: "Basically, my piece is just meant to be a reminder that the way we live is not the only way to live. It is not a statement of value or an attempt to change people or say that one way of life is any better than another. Rather, It is just a reminder that the world is a big place. And we shouldn’t get so caught up in the way we live that we forget there is a whole world out there. Live your life, people."

Q: What else can you say about your work?


A: “In my work, I typically don’t try to have a strong message. I work must often in portraits and I try to focus on the thing that define the person best. For some people, it may be the types of clothes they wear or how they wear their hair. For others, it may be the item they are holding. For this piece, I felt the eyes were the most important so that the viewer may feel as though the boy was looking directly at them and engaging with them (looking with the same curiosity at the viewer that the viewer may have about him).”


Q: What is your background in art?


A: “I did have some schooling in art years ago. I received my BFA from UMSL in 2005. About a year or so later, I went back to school to pursue a career in archaeology. Due to the demands of that, I set art aside for quite a while. It wasn’t until I was finishing up grad school for archaeology that I began working on art again as a way to give myself some relaxation time while writing my dissertation. Soon after, I started doing art galleries again after meeting my wife, another artist who also enjoys participating in art exhibitions.”


Q: What do you think of the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre?


“St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre is a great place for the arts. I wish I had known about it years ago. I especially enjoy the art exhibitions there. There are a lot of incredibly talented artists who participate, many of which are far more talented than myself, in my opinion.”