Passionate, gregarious, and larger-than-life, Ti-Rock Moore could not have been born of any place other than New Orleans. It’s a small town where everyone not only knows everyone else, they’re all somehow related. Memories here are long; allegiances are as ideological as they are familial. For Moore, a daughter of the South and the Civil Rights era, a child and still-denizen of the French Quarter and the arts, and a pioneer of LGBTQ rights who has never lived above the Mason-Dixon line, white privilege and the racism it engenders has always been a highly visible, salient, and uncomfortable reality.
As one of the first students at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) in the 1970s, Moore began to envision for herself a creative life. Transported by Judith Jamison’s groundbreaking performances in Revelations and Cry for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Moore initially pursued dance as her medium but eventually detoured from dance to dentistry before landing on her ultimate life’s work. Later, Moore’s activism in the '80s and '90s indelibly informed her focus and second-career passion and intensity for exploring what is for many the most recalcitrant of American vices: hatred based on race.
Emerging in 2014 with protest works created, in part, in response to the devastating, lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina, Moore renamed herself in homage to colorful and controversial twentieth-century painter Noel Rockmore, a New Yorker turned New Orleanian who, like Moore, had been the child of artists. Moore’s self-identification (petit or ‘tit in local parlance) with the mercurial Rockmore as a kind of spiritual protégé positions her within both local history and artistic traditions. Yet there is nothing small about Moore’s driving vision and ambition for her work, which focuses on dismantling the structures that support racism. This history is as much hers as it is ours; indeed, it is a distinctly American narrative Moore seeks to unravel through her work.
Who should speak when the subject of art is racism? Is it the subject/victim only, when/if he or she is still able to speak? Or is it the perpetrator, in the zero sum game, victor-takes-the-spoils collapsing American psyche? With racism, you have two actors, two groups, a protagonist and an antagonist, a perpetrator and a victim, an Us and a Them, often, though not always, black and white. In this instance, whose voice has the authority to speak, indeed, to critique, the juggernaut of racism in the United States, that groaning, bloated, yet somehow newly recharged monster that so many people had naïvely relegated to the past? Who is responsible for her group; who is implicated by her privilege, and who by her debasement? And will the message necessarily be different if it comes from either messenger?
I acknowledge my white privilege as a direct remnant of slavery, the result of atrocities committed against others. I explore it through my acute awareness of the unearned advantage my white skin holds. White privilege controls America’s heartbeat, and our nation’s collective loss of memory, our historical amnesia, is to blame. I examine my self and identity in a critical manner; I hold my audience and me accountable for our complicity. Indeed, it is past time for white Americans to hold accountability for and stand up to the injustices of racial oppression.
My art is an expression of my activism, constantly and consistently mining the past to disrupt the present in order to secure the future. It is loud, expressing the pain and rage of our continued collective disavowal of responsibility from the very systems we uphold. My work is rooted in a critique of white supremacy and the systemic oppression of people of color in the United States, and it is reactive to the violent, vicious, genocidal, and unapologetic way in which we differentiate between each other based on race, gender, and class.
T I – R O C K M O O R E | | | curriculum vitae
2017 “A Burning House,” Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2015 Confronting Truths – Wake Up, Gallery Guichard, Chicago, IL
Abolitionist, The Houston Museum of African American Culture, Houston, TX
2017 Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
2016 NOCCA Press Street Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Boyd Satellite Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Urbanism, Gallery Guichard, Chicago, IL
Politicon, Los Angeles, CA
Truth to Power, Philadelphia, PA
Louisiana Contemporary, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA
No Dead Artists, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA.
If This Art Could Vote, online exhibition, The Huffington Post
2015 Respond, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY
39 or So…, NOCCA Alumni Show, 5 PRESS Gallery and Kirschman Artspace, New Orleans, LA
Manifest: Justice, Los Angeles, CA
Levy, Boyd Satellite Gallery, New Orleans, LA
REVERB: Past, Present, Future, The Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
Louisiana Contemporary, Ogden Museum, New Orleans, LA
2014 Louisiana Contemporary, Ogden Museum, New Orleans, LA
No Blue Dogs Here, Gallery Twenty One Fourteen, New Orleans, LA
Bombay Sapphire Artisans Series, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
Bombay Sapphire Artisans Series, Art Basel, Miami, FL
Above Canal: Rights and Revival, Prospect 3+, New Orleans, LA
AWARDS and COMMISSIONS
2016 Grand Prize Winner of No Dead Artists International Juried Exhibition, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2015 Grand Prize Winner, Manifest: Justice, Los Angeles, CA
Bombay Sapphire Mural Commission, New Orleans
2014 Regional Finalist, Bombay Sapphire Artisans Series, New Orleans, LA
National First Runner Up, Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, Art Basel Miami, FL
Beth Rudin DeWoody, New York, NY
Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Washington, DC
Empire TV Series, Chicago, IL
Lauren and Richard Nijkerk Collection, Singapore
Lester Marks, Houston, TX
Ric Whitney, Los Angeles, CA