Artist Spotlight: Finding Beauty in Unexpected Places With Denallie Moore

Denallie Moore is a multi-disciplinary artist from Wyoming and Alaska. She graduated with her BFA from the University of Wyoming in 2020 and she is currently working towards creating her own artistic identity. She is inspired by found objects, geology, and the many places she has had the opportunity to live. We sat down with Moore to talk about craft, inspiration, and the art of finding art.

A character portrait by Denallie Moore, with the artist as model.

What is your craft? And what inspired you to pursue it?

I am a multidisciplinary artist; I focus mostly on metals and pastel/ charcoal. I don’t know that there was any specific catalyzing event that inspired me to pursue my work. It evolved pretty naturally. I think it became clear after a couple years of community college that there was no other option for me. I could take classes on whatever I liked, but I would only really be interested in one thing.

What about art continues to interest you?

First, there’s the thing that I think most artists share which is that making is a form of communication between groups of people, between artists, etc. I’m not a person who has an easy time of it getting my thoughts out, but I seem to be able to do that much easier through a visual medium. Besides that, though, a lot of it is the tactile experience of making. I find metal to be absolutely fascinating. It is beautiful in all of its forms and I respect it immensely. I also find working with it very physically satisfying. Drawing with pastel and charcoal is a very reverent experience for me. It can be extremely intimate and contemplative, especially since I mostly do figurative work and portraiture. I enjoy that connection that I feel between myself, the paper, and my model.

Metalwork by Denallie Moore inspired by the landscape of Wyoming.

Do you have any projects you’re currently working on or recently finished that you can tell us about?

Yes! I just started a new one actually. It’s still in the planning stages and I’m working on making a maquette right now.

A lot of my work, both two and three-dimensional, focuses on found objects. It’s for some reason or another something that I continue to return to. I’ve always found objects to be connections to the landscape and to memories and to people. I could go on about that but for this project: I have a jar full of antique mother of pearl buttons. A lot of people in my community have been working with crochet lately which has inspired me to consider textiles as a way of communicating between generations and at once providing a necessary service but also a connection.

So, I’m taking those buttons, and I’m using the crocheted granny square as inspiration and creating a garment of metal squares using buttons as adornment.

What is a maquette?

Working with sculpture and especially with metal, you don’t really have the luxury of messing up as much as you might with another medium. If there are multiple components to something, you have to get it exactly right before you go for the full thing. A maquette Is a small version of the piece that examines something about it that you would like to test. You can only get so far with a sketch of a 3D piece, sometimes you just need that extra bit of thought before you jump right in.

In my case, it will be making a single granny square. I need to make sure all of my measurements are correct and I need to make sure that it moves the way I would like it to.

That way when I start production of 50 to 100 of these, I know exactly what I’m going to get!

That sounds amazing!

Yeah! I’m very excited about it. I haven’t worked on something this big in a long time. I think there’s a lot to be talked about in terms of inter-generational exchange and family history and tradition that can be discussed with that piece.

What about your work with pastels?

Maybe you’ll like this because you’re a queer company and this is part of me being frustrated as an ace person in modern culture as well as being a female presenting person in the world we live in. I am so tired of sexuality and nudity being mutually inclusive. I grew up as a very active person and learned through many many years of martial arts that the body is a tool, not an object.

There was one instance in college where we had an event in our school and had new drawings from croquis sessions on the wall. A parent of a young child complained to the department that this was not something their child should have seen. None of these poses were in any way sexualized. It was extremely frustrating for me, the artists, and my department. I think that was kind of the hatching moment of my plan to draw nude figures in ways that are completely non-sexual. I want to have an exhibition of nude models that you could take your child into.

I will be collecting models for this project this upcoming winter.

Pastel by Denallie Moore. A model looks upward with a smile. The pastel work uses the colors of the trans pride flag.

We’ve talked a bit about what you most like to do. what’s the hardest thing about creating art?

I think the hardest part for me personally is reaching an audience. I’m not a digital artist. Anyone who knows anything about me would agree with that. That means it’s pretty hard to find people outside of my very specific artistic communities to engage with.

Applying for galleries is an exhausting experience and doesn’t necessarily make your work anymore accessible, and in the age of social media the best bet is generally to maintain a digital presence for yourself. Something I’m working on but definitely something I’m struggling with because there’s a learning curve to photographing and presenting your work in a way that can be translated between a physical space and a digital one.

What would getting/maintaining an audience look like to you?

Interesting you should ask!

I am in the process of creating a digital gallery. I am irritated by the barriers between academic and self-taught, between traditional and digital art, and I would like to remove those by creating an accessible space and elevating all forms of art without the limiting condescension of the gallery/fine arts world. It’s a lot to think about and it’s going to take a lot of experimentation to reach that goal but it’s something I would like to try.

Do you have any artists you admire?

I’ve got a lot of artistic inspirations. One of them is Mallory Weston. I absolutely love the way she combines sheet metal and fabric into gorgeous three-dimensional forms. There is also Kat Cole, and Lui ferreyra is another one. I love this person’s use of hatching and color. It’s incredible.

What are your cryptid characteristics?

Haha!

Well I’m never seen in the sunlight in a public place, that’s for certain. I will pick up anything I find on the ground and keep it forever. I definitely have Smeagol energy.

Where can we find more of your work?

I had an exhibition last year at the University of Wyoming called Marrow. But the best place to find me is on my website. You can see more of my drawings, jewelry, sculpture, and metalwork and contact me directly.


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