Artist Mario Moore | Detroit Performs Clip

Artist Mario Moore | Detroit Performs Clip


– What’s up guys? And welcome to the eighth
season of Detroit Performs. This season we’re gonna hit you up with an array of different artists including clay sculptures,
graffiti jewelry makers, classically-trained musicians, vogue dancers, and so much more. But tonight we are here
at the David Klein Gallery kicking things off with
a silverpoint artist and muralist who asks the question in his latest exhibition, is it possible for us to truly rest? Here is Mario Moore. (elegant rock music) – I’m interested in creating a stage that the audience can kind of come into. (elegant rock music) Art to me has always
been involved in my life. I grew up around the DIA, I used to go visit the
museum when I was a kid, I would walk through the galleries. But as far as like inspiration, that came from my mom, Sabrina Nelson, because I would see her
do these large paintings. Just the idea to look at a canvas that’s blank or a piece of paper and her just make something, was always interesting to me. The way that I begin my work is usually through sketches and ideas. It is usually that I have a
thought and I have a process. And I sketch out or I
think about that thought and I say what is the best
way to portray this thought or to talk about this idea? So that can go to sculpture,
that can go to drawing, that can go to video,
that can go to painting, but the majority of the time I’m interested in a massive narrative. We’re in the David Klein Gallery and the show is called Recovery. And the show is about
considering how black men rest and relax and take time for themselves. What happened was I was
working on a body of work where I was thinking
about myself personally and how I move my body through the world and how the world considers
me as a black man. And then I had brain surgery. I had brain surgery and
literally I was forced to rest. So that made me think
about things historically, like how did historic black men that we know and the world knows, like a Martin Luther King or a
Malcolm X or a W.E.B Du Bois, and when we look up their names, they’re always speaking really loud, they’re on the podium,
they’re always active. In times of turmoil, like what we’re dealing with today as far as everything politically
and socioeconomically, how do I rest? ’cause we’re kind of in a
similar state and in some ways, in some senses as far as education and other things like that, it’s worse, it’s gone backwards instead of forwards. So, but at the same time we’re human. So these men took vacations, they took time with their family, they took naps. So I started to think about that and the work presents a question, because I don’t have the answer. So how do black men
rest, how do they relax, and what does that look like? It has to do with just
the history of America in that black men and black
people just in general, we’re in the process of constantly having to stay ahead just to
catch up economically. Since we got to the country or
the Americas, we were slaves. It was things that the country were built on the labor that we put in. So that is passed down as
far as trying to catch up, you have to work extremely hard. So the idea of resting and relaxing is not a part of the process when you’re always thinking about what do I need to do next? Silverpoint is a technique that was used in the 16th and 15th century. And it’s literally a piece of silver and drawing with a piece of silver. Most of the silverpoint drawings
that have the historical, like the larger ones that have the historical figures in the background, it’s a concept and idea
is that can a black man look relaxed and calm and
present himself in that way, but also at the same time be powerful? Like I’m letting the background, the historical figures
do all the work for me, while I relax. And I think that’s part of the importance and a part of the process. I like the amount of texture and detail that went into the silverpoint, but there’s a limited number of values that you can reach. So no matter what I draw, no matter how hard the subject matter is, there’s always gonna
be this softness to it and I really like that. The other thing I really like about silverpoint is that you can’t erase. So it’s almost like drawing with a pen, whatever you put down is permanent. So everything that goes into that drawing, you’re gonna have to deal with it, right? It’s there to exist forever. Another thing I like is that
in dealing with silverpoint, you’re literally leaving
behind silver on paper. So you’re creating something
that has initial value. And with the work that I was working on, I’m dealing with a subject matter that people don’t see as valuable, America often sees as
invalue as far as black men and also this idea of rest
and this idea of relaxing. So I think that material has
worked for me really well, and thinking about these
ideas and concepts. There’s one piece in
particular in the show. I read this book called Medical Apartheid, it has to do with the
experimentation on black people from slavery to contemporary times. And I also got this huge
photography book called Stiffs, Skulls and Skeletons. Through that book, you can see how they experimented and
practiced on cadavers. And most of the cadavers you will see are black or African-American cadavers. And the way that that happened
is they were like, well, we don’t really care about this community, so we can dig up these
graves and use these bodies. So those bodies became objects, they weren’t even people anymore. So it was like, well, the thing that just happened
to me with my brain surgery, what would that look
like back in these times? And I wanted to show opposition to that that shine the light on me as a person, as a human being instead of a object, and kind of mute the light on
the figures that are above me. The American bulldog, for me it’s a literal representation of the history of America and I use it as as symbol
for America itself. And often you’ll find the
dog is sleeping or relaxing as it’s ignoring really big issues that are happening right above it. I include history in my work because as far as social issues, we kind of roll around all the time back to similar issues
over and over again. So I look at the past and I consider it, and I’m saying well, what was happening then
kinda looks like now. What did they do then, what can we do now, what can we do to change it
and what does that look like? I think there’s a ton of stuff
to take away from this show. I think about a lot of different narratives that go into one piece, but there’s a lot of stuff
that I don’t think about. And I think those are the important things that people that come and see the show that they can pull out for themselves. I think it’s important
for the people to answer. Well these are the things that I noticed, these are some ideas
that I’m thinking about, this is a question that I have, and I think it becomes more participatory that the people that
come and see the show, they provide the answers. I think hearing their perspective and hearing their ideas about resting and what that looked like for them was extremely important. I think hearing my dad talk about how he’s worked since he was 16 years old and talking about his
perspective was important. But I think the most important thing that happened after the show was I went into the barbershop and one of the barbers that was in there, he told me after seeing my show he literally took a week off of work. And then also hearing that several men after seeing the show were
going outside and crying, which is like they honestly
never thought in this way. So I think those were probably the most important things that happened. (soft lively music) – You can learn more about Mario Moore, as well as all the
artists that we feature, on detroitperforms.org.

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