Arts & Culture

Gantt Center Goes Behind the Scenes with Mario Moore in Latest Virtual Event

Out in the Open Air

Tonight, the Harvey B. Gantt Center takes a virtual behind-the-scenes look at the work of renowned visual artist Mario Moore, including a personal tour of his studio in his hometown of Detroit, where he’ll soon begin a new body of work.  

Hosted by curator Dexter Wimberly, Moore will guide viewers through his studio to talk about his process, his inspiration and the realities of living life as an artist without a safety net. 

Moore – a rising art star in the art community – achieved acclaim among a broad audience with past exhibits at the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum; The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, The George N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, all in Detroit. He’s also shown at Winston-Salem State University’s Diggs Gallery; and The Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

In 2018, he hosted his exhibit recovery, which was “about considering how Black men rest and relax and take time for themselves,” he said. 

Tonight’s free program is a part of the Gantt Center’s ongoing Open Air virtual exhibit series, one of many ways the museum has pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue educating Charlotteans and others on Black culture, be it artistically, politically or otherwise. 

When the museum closed in March due to COVID-19, management quickly shifted their focus by starting several virtual series via YouTube. 

‘Open Air’ is the Gantt Center’s monthly series of studio visits and intimate conversations with Black contemporary artists – each segment connecting particular works to some of the most pressing issues of our times. 

In early April, the Gantt Center began a weekly virtual series titled, ‘Unmasked.’ Each week, a panel of local experts, professionals and citizens highlights a disparity within the Black community that has only been made worse by COVID-19. The most recent Unmasked segment, ‘Redefining Protect and Serve,’ challenged outdated policing policies with an emphasis on how certain policies perpetuate a culture of punishment and criminalization in underserved, predominantly Black neighborhoods.

According to the Gantt Center, historically, Black artists have been compelled to make their way within the art world, challenging traditional ideas of cultural representation while also creating their own systems of merit, criticality, and reward outside of the mainstream. Mario Moore is known for doing just that. 

A painting by Moore.

During the 2018–19 school year, Moore was awarded the prestigious Princeton Hodder Fellowship, which allowed him to create large portraits and paintings featuring the Black men who work in and around the Princeton University campus in New Jersey, specifically the blue-collar workers that often get overlooked.

Wimberly, host of the Open Air series, is an independent curator and entrepreneur known for organizing exhibitions and developing programs with galleries and institutions throughout the world, including The Third Line in Dubai, Koki Arts in Tokyo, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. 

In this current political and social climate, many are finding solace and comfort in music, media, and art. The Open Air series at the Harvey B. Gantt center has created a virtual space that allows patrons to connect with Black artists without risking their safety. This free virtual program will be streamed on the Gantt Center’s official YouTube channel. Visit to learn more about the artist.

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