Dual Vision: In Conversation with Mario Moore

Mario Moore lives and works in Detroit, MI. Moore received a BFA in Illustration from the College for Creative Studies (2009) and an MFA in Painting from the Yale School of Art (2013). He was recently awarded the prestigious Princeton Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University and has participated as an artist-in-residence at Knox College, Fountainhead residency and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. His work is in several public and private collections which include the Detroit Institute of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem and Princeton University Art Museum. Moore’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions including The Smart Museum, Chicago; the Smithsonian Museum traveling Sites Exhibition; Xavier University Art Gallery, New Orleans; the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI; David Klein Gallery, Detroit; and the Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, New York. He will have a solo survey exhibition at the Charles H. Wright Museum, Detroit, in 2021.

How did you come to work with your specific collaborator? Did you know them before this? Were you familiar with their work?

The collaborator was assigned by the curator. I was really excited to work with Rashaun. I knew him before this project. I really admire his work and his skill, he has incredible ideas.

Before the actual process of making, what was the process of deciding on what to make like? What was the making process itself like?

We talked a lot about what we would do and had a few meetings. We knew we wanted to deal with family history and just began by talking about our families. For Rashaun he was coming from a lived experience with a specific place and family member, I on the other hand was coming from a place of understanding my great grandfather through stories and written documents. I was coming from this family story telling and imaginative space but we were both concentrating on the idea of place, respite, safety and home. At the time I was living in New Jersey and Rashaun was here in Detroit so we knew how the pieces would connect but we were making in two different states.

What new possibilities were offered through collaboration that would not have been possible working alone? Did you feel any disadvantages compared to working alone? 

I enjoyed the possibilities of working with an artist like Rashaun, we both had so many ideas and we just had to scale them in a way that made sense and also would be enough for the allocated space the museum gave us. I didn’t feel any disadvantages about working together, there is a push and pull in collaboration and I like that.

Did working collaboratively provide you with any insights that could be extrapolated and used outside of art in either a personal or political context? Were there lessons learned that could be used in other aspects of life? What did it teach you about democracy?

There was a lot I learned about home from him. I thought about my relationship to my family and the idea of the porch where everyone comes to enjoy each other. A safe space, almost like the barbershop but way more relaxed. I think for me what I took away was how to become more connected to my distant family because we were both talking about family members that live or lived elsewhere. His family in North Carolina and my family in Tennessee. For me in particular, a family member I had never met.

Going off of the title of the exhibition, how do you and your collaborator see your specific work differently? 

Well I would like to think that the works speak to the other works in the show and specifically that Rashaun’s vision and how the work is displayed sets up a stage for my drawing. It all feels like a mystery and I believe that is what I wanted for the work. Two visions coming together that work but that can also take you in different directions.

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