LaChaun Moore: 17845
Nov 13, 2020 — May 29, 2021
LaChaun Moore: 17845 is a contemplative exploration of the artist’s family history and relationship to agriculture. Moore’s worldview and artistic practice is informed by being a Black woman whose family inspired her love of agriculture. Her affinity for growing things flips supposed urban stereotypes on their ears and takes on the painful agricultural legacy of enslavement, the Jim Crow South from which her grandfather fled, and a litany of injustices that continue today. Her grandfather’s dedication to gardening represents one important way in which Moore’s family tree influences her work. The title of her exhibition - 17845 - is a reference to her grandfather’s nursing home identification number, a number that adorns Moore’s most beloved keepsake, a t-shirt on view in the exhibition.
The visual appearance of this exhibition is directly tied to the healing that takes place when the roots and current ramifications of racism are discussed. Moore prefers to express the breadth of her family history in the confines of one gallery by dreamlike, surreal means. Most dramatically and pointedly, the cotton jackets suspended from the center of the ceiling cast irregular shadows. They have a presence like anthropomorphic clouds referencing the heavens, indicating Moore’s ancestors are always close by. Additionally, each garment represents a labor of love. Moore made them as a way of honoring her family’s past and continues to grow cotton, indigo sourced from lowland plantations near her South Carolina home, and a variety of other crops. She does this as a way to give herself agency over economic systems in agriculture that were and are oppressive to Black and indigenous farmers. A sense of healing and growth also present themselves in a more recognizably surrealist or Afro-surrealist manner that can best be described as Toni Morrison meets Salvador Dalí. For example, sitting on organically shaped shelves and pedestals, as well as an unassuming table are tinctures and family heirlooms. It as though one can walk into a dream and find a talisman that can provide protection or a tincture of cotton bark that can heal the body and spirit. Moore created the vials of tincture using ancestral plant knowledge, which would have been familiar to enslaved people in the Carolinas . The presence of moss growing out of casements and walls in the gallery adds to the sense that this is a sedate chamber of memories, undisturbed by time. It is an intimate, healing space rooted in Moore’s personal history.