Representation matters, says photographer Erin Moore, who is publishing online a portrait of a black person who lives in Maine every day of Black History Month. She believes often in art, culture and history, black people are not represented at all or are represented poorly, which inspired her to change that for this time and this place.
Moore, who lives in Eliot, Maine, and owns Mercy Street Studio in South Berwick, Maine, had seen several exhibits at art museums over the course of the last year, including one at the Portland Museum of Art.
There are no black people in this whole museum, she said after touring the PMA, and the idea of a portrait project came to her.
After seeing the exhibit 30 Americans at a Philadelphia museum later in the year, she was inspired once more. The exhibit featured artwork by 30 African Americans created in response to their American experience.
Then, in December, she was at a museum in San Diego and happened to go through an exhibit of American art backwards, realizing there was no black representation there either. When she got to the exhibits start, there was a placard where the museum acknowledged the lack of diversity in the artists and the subject matter of the art.
It basically said you can tell as much about the cultural context of art by whats missing as by whats present, Moore said. I thought, I really need to do my project.
The premise of her 29 Mainers project is to represent black people living in Maine today in fine art portraits. The projects title is a hat tip to the 30 Americans exhibit shed seen last year.
She put out a model call and had those who were interested in participating go through an application process. She wanted the subjects to be really diverse and represent all black people, not just African Americans, but also those who were born in other countries and who have come here by choice or taken refuge here. She began doing the photo shoots in mid-January. To…