Mario Moore ART ’13 does not have to walk very far to view his work on display: a new show of Moore’s paintings is located conveniently at The Study hotel, right across the street from his studio in the School of Art’s Green Hall. After receiving his BFA from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit in 2009, Moore worked as a set sculptor before coming to Yale to pursue graduate studies. The News spoke with Moore about his show at The Study and about the relative limits of painting versus drawing.
Q To start off, what’s the subject of the show?
A The subject mainly deals with people in general — in conflict, people in conflict. I guess it has to do with societal hierarchies — being a black man or a black woman in America. It deals with those issues.
Q Did something specific prompt this?
A Well, I’m from Detroit, so I guess being from a Midwestern city, because Michigan is majority white. So there’s a lot of racial issues, even in a big city, but it’s not the same issues you’d see in a southern 60s, 50s kind of place. But it’s kind of hidden. Weird things happen.
Q Has New Haven influenced that impression?
A Yeah, because I feel like there’s a disconnect between the city-dwellers and Yale. There’s that tension there.
Q What subjects do you keep coming back to?
A I think I always come back to portraiture, because I feel like it’s a way to connect a person with an image, [to] connect a person with a person within an image.
Q And are there specific models you come back to?
A No, I don’t have specific models, but specific ideas, dealing with hair and beauty in black women, and the power of a black figure within a painting and what that means.
Q How do you pick what gets shown?
A Well, here, I had to edit down, because I had some stuff that probably wouldn’t be too acceptable to a hotel. Like, there was one piece with a middle finger, just a portrait of me with a middle finger. People probably wouldn’t be too comfortable seeing that on a hotel wall, so I just tried to find stuff that I felt would fit the space.
Q And you have another show right now, in Detroit?
A Yeah, I have a show at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. It’s a group show. That’s not a solo show.
Q Why do artists go to school?
A That’s a great question. For the most part, it’s to connect with other people. It’s basically a huge network. I see it as a networking opportunity, a way to develop your ideas because you’re learning from people that are essentially in the business. Like in any other field, we want to learn from the best. You gotta go talk to the best.
Q I always thought of art as a solitary craft.
A Well sometimes it can be, you know, the artists in their studio, not talking to anybody, not eating any food, going hungry — a starving weird guy. But it’s actually good to have a community in life, to talk to people and get your ideas flowing.
Q You do both etchings and paintings. How do you approach those differently?
A I approach the etchings differently. I have a lot more freedom with etching and drawing than with painting. I started painting senior year of high school, but I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. I feel like the graphic space of a drawing is a lot freer than a painting to me. I’m trying to learn a new approach. I’m trying to feel that out in my paintings.
Q How do you decide when a painting is finished?
A Oh man, that’s a good question. You almost never know. Because I can say a painting’s finished, especially in this program, and then you get, “You got this to do. You should do that. That’s wrong. You need to wipe that out. You need to paint this over.” But I think it’s just when I’m trying to get my point across and I feel like that’s what’s coming across, then I consider it done.
Q After you got your BFA you worked as a set sculptor on film sets. What does that entail?
A A set sculptor works in the warehouse, essentially, with the contractors, the carpenters, the plant guys, the set director guys, and we basically construct the set that the film’s gonna happen on. So, I worked on the movie “Real Steel,” with Hugh Jackman and I worked on “Red Dawn,” which is soon to come out as a remake of the 80s [movie] Red Dawn. Basically, all we did was sculpt rocks and trees, Every tree and rock that you see in a movie is probably not even real, it’s probably a foam object and then they put plaster over it and they paint it and make it look real. My boss sculpted an entire tree just so they could shoot it up.
Q Do you still sculpt?
A Yeah, I’m actually working on some sculpture this year. I’m trying to get back into it.