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Detroit artist in first ArtPrize returns for UICA's "Coming Home" exhibition

Mario Moore is participating in Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts' new exhibition which highlights emerging and established Michigan artists.
Artist Mario Moore

Artist Mario Moore /Danielle Eliska Lyle

Underwriting support from:

See Mario Moore's art as a part of Coming Home at UICA

Coming Home exhibition runs from Friday, November 11 at 5:30 p.m. to Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 6:00 p.m..

Gallery Hours
Tues–Sat: 12:00–9:00 p.m.
Sun: 12:00–6:00 p.m.
Mon: Closed

Gallery Admission
Members: Free
Adults: $5
Five and under: Free

Featured Artists:
Kelly Allen
Michael C. Andrews
Nayda Collazo-Llorens
Geary Jones
Bob Marsh
Dylan Miner
Mario Moore
Diane Zeeuw

Mario Moore, "That Beautiful Color"

Mario Moore, "That Beautiful Color" /Mario Moore

Mario Moore, originally from Detroit, is participating in Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts’ new exhibition, “Coming Home.” “Coming Home” highlights emerging and established Michigan artists.

Mario Moore grew up around the arts scene in Detroit and received a BFA in Illustration from the College for Creative Studies there and then moved to Connecticut where he got an MFA in Painting from the Yale School of Art. He is now base in Brooklyn, New York. Closer to home, Moore came to Grand Rapids for the first time and participated in the first ArtPrize in 2009 with a painting displayed at local church called “Mourning Mother.” It depicted a police officer walking up the front steps to a mother being held by a relative.

“It was a cool venue, though not as much traffic and Facebook was not as really huge, but there was lots of good blogging about my work. I visited UICA while I was here and thought the space was amazing,” Moore said.

For the Coming Home exhibition, Moore will be bringing ten pieces of art, eight of them new for the show. “A lot of women participated in and led the Civil Rights movement but they weren’t allowed on the podium. I want to put them in the forefront. My collection is not encyclopedic, but takes a few points from history and talks about the present while analyzing how Black women have been portrayed in history,” Moore said. “The entire collection is about putting women, particularly women of color, at the forefront of painting; historically they’re always in the background, looking to the side. Or they’re erased completely and not in the painting at all.”

Besides his paintings being his work now, and commenting on the current social perceptions of Black people, Moore notes his paintings are also something he leaves behind. “So I want people to look at these paintings and see real Black people and different notions of Black womanhood.”

When asked how the women in his life respond to these paintings, Moore stated that for the most part they really like them. He emphasized that rather than asking people he doesn’t know to be some sort of idealized muse, his paintings are a collaboration with his family and friends. “All my paintings work from people I know, am close to; it’s a collaboration.”

Moore notes a series he did in the past when he asked women to bring reading they felt pressured by, pieces that sought to make them conform to larger societal ideals about beauty or thought. “Instead, they brought books that inspired them,” he said. “I didn’t tell them what to wear or how to pose. The only direction was to look directly at me, not off to the side which is voyeuristic for the viewer. Looking to the side, they'd become an object versus a person.”

Moore goes on to voice his hopes for the Coming Home exhibition: “Painting doesn’t have all the answers, but it should definitely pose questions. There’s also a collaboration between the painting and the person who’s looking at the painting. I really want people to go and have a conversation about what they see.”

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