Detroit's Mario Moore presents 'Revolutionary Times' exhibit at Flint Institute of Arts

FLINT, Michigan — On Sunday, Jan. 21, the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA) will unveil its newest exhibition, 'Revolutionary Times.' This collection features a wide range of contemporary figures in historical contexts through the lens of various paintings, silverpoint drawings, and works on paper by Mario Moore, that capture the complexity of American history and its present connections to the past.

Visitors can look forward to seeing 36 paintings and works on paper by the Detroit-based artist.

“The purpose of the exhibition is for visitors to think about how events of the past are recurring or similarly happening today. How have we changed as a nation in relation to our treatment of Black individuals and how have we not,” said Rachael Holstege, Associate Curator at Flint Institute of Arts.

This unique art collection will be located in FIA’s Hodge Gallery and “gives an overview of our history through paintings, sculpture, and works on paper,” said Holstege. Holstege also expressed that FIA hopes that visitors leave “thinking about the questions that arise in the exhibition and think about their role in our contemporary society.”

The inspiration for the exhibit began in 2022 when FIA acquired a silverpoint drawing by Moore depicting abolitionist Wiliam Lambert. Holstege said, “This then prompted the FIA to reach out to Moore to see if he would be interested in working with the FIA on an exhibition in the future. He agreed and presented us with the idea of presenting three of his recent bodies of work that focus on American history, Black agency, liberation, and ingenuity.”

Mario Moore, American, born 1987. Blues Man: Allie at Home, 2022. Oil on linen, 60 in. Framed: 65 in. Courtesy of the artist and David Klein Gallery.The pieces highlighted in 'Revolutionary Times' were selected among several collections by Moore himself; A New Republic (2021), Midnight and Canaan (2022), and his newest series, A New Frontier (2023–24). Together, these three pieces depict the similarities between the past and the nation’s existing racial and political divisions.

The oldest of the three collections featured, A New Republic (2021), examines the role of Black Union Soldiers in saving the United States during the Civil War. Similarly, in Midnight and Canaan (2022), Moore centers on the Black experience by analyzing the connection between Detroit and Windsor, Canada, and the historical link between the Underground Railroad and the ongoing pursuit of freedom. 
Mario Moore, American, born 1987. Tiff Like Granite, What Up Doe, 2022. Oil on linen 72 X 48 in. Courtesy of the artist and David Klein Gallery.
Lastly, carrying on his signature style of depicting Black struggles in contemporary art, Moore’s latest collection, A New Frontier (2023–24), explores the Detroit fur trade and its connection to the use of Black enslaved bodies for the export and transport of products.

FIA’s exhibit description shares that “the series are tied together by the hard work, labor, liberation, and ingenuity of Black citizens that have revolutionized those time periods in comparison to contemporary problems the United States faces as a nation.”

“My favorite thing about the exhibition is Moore’s focus on both history and contemporary culture,” shared Holstege. “His paintings reflect the history of the Detroit Fur Trade, Underground Railroad, and the American Civil War, but he often uses contemporary figures. It’s interesting to learn the history of these moments and see how they connect and sometimes don’t differ from events happening today.”

The exhibition opens to the public on Sunday, Jan. 21, and from 2-3 p.m., Moore will be present at the “Meet the Artist” event at FIA. However, eager community members can preview the exhibition a day early by attending the 17th Annual Community Gala on Saturday, Jan. 20.

The evening will begin with a lecture by Moore, followed by a preview of the exhibition, live entertainment, and heavy hors d’oeuvres. Proceeds from the event benefit the exhibition and expand the African American art collection at the FIA. The 'Revolutionary Times' exhibit will be on display from Jan. 21 to April 14, 2024.

To learn more about FIA’s newest exhibit and upcoming events, visit:
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Read more articles by Brianna Nargiso.