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Recovering from brain surgery, Detroit artist explores black men at rest in new exhibit

painting of man on table with doctors above him
Mario Moore
Courtesy of David Klein Gallery
"A Students Dream" by Mario Moore, painting, oil on canvas.

Is it possible for a black man to rest in an institutionally oppressive society? 

That is the question Mario Moore wants to tackle in his art. 

Moore is mixed-medium artist and a Detroit native. He sat down with Stateside to discuss his new exhibition “Recovering” which opens this weekend at the David Kline Gallery in downtown Detroit. 

After undergoing brain surgery, Moore began to think more profoundly about the way black men process trauma. The representation of rest and recovery served as the inspiration for this latest exhibition. 

painting of man in blue hat
Credit Mario Moore / Courtesy of David Klein Gallery
Courtesy of David Klein Gallery
To Amani Minter, 2018. Oil on copper.

 “African-American men often aren’t seen resting so when thinking about these historical figures, you always see them on a podium, you see them speaking, you see them in marches, you look at images, that's what you're going to be presented with,” Moore said. “But looking at them as human beings, they had to rest at some point.”

While he was undergoing his own recovery, he also began to consider how the surgery would have been different had it taken place in the 19th century. He studied a book of old medical photographs where most of the images showed white medical studies standing over black cadavers. 

“They would dig up the graves of these people, and they would use them as cadavers. And that happened a lot in African-American graveyards and communities because nobody cared about their bodies, and they just saw them as objects,” Moore said. “So it’s thinking about that history and how can I put myself in a place where I am considering today, but also making the viewer look at the body, and making the body a human being.” 

Listen above to hear the full interview with Mario Moore. 

Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Sophie Sherry. 

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