Born in rural Mississippi in 1892, the youngest son of a freed slave, Elijah Pierce spent most of his long life working as a barber in Columbus, Ohio. “I ran from the ministry,” he once explained. “I have to carve every sermon I didn’t preach.” Pierce sculpted Bible stories, visions of heaven, injunctions to obey God, but also animals, sports heroes, and political parables, including a pair of reliefs titled Nixon Being Chased by Inflation and Nixon Being Driven From the White House . In Music Box, above, dancers set inside a trim Deco commercial display cabinet move to the accompaniment of exuberant horns. A retrospective of the artist’s work, organized in his hometown by the Columbus Museum of Art, will travel next year to the Moore College of Art in Philadelphia and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe.