When you see the artwork to the right, titled “Flint,” what are your first thoughts? Maybe something like, It’s powerful, touching, and says a lot about the issues in Flint without using any words at all.
Now, what if we told you the piece was created by a 57-year-old white woman? Would it discredit the work in any way? Would it take away from the impact of the piece? Would your thoughts change? Should they?
The artist, Ti-Rock Moore, who has been creating pieces that tackle race for several years now, is accustomed to the shift in viewers’ perspectives. Last year, Moore received heat after exhibiting a life-size mannequin of Michael Brown’s dead body surrounded by police tape. Race can be a touchy topic for any artist to explore, and it becomes extra dicey when someone from an inherently privileged perspective starts to weigh in.
But it’s clear Moore is very much aware of her own privilege. “I am resolved as an artist-activist to challenge the systems built on the foundation of white privilege, white power, and white supremacy,” Moore tells us, stating that her intended audience is primarily white Americans. “By exhibiting symbolically overt events, which are manifestations of these systems, and pointing out the brutalities that these systems support, I hope to provide a reflection of the perpetrators to the perpetrators.”
It’s also clear her work resonates with audiences of varying backgrounds. A video of her “Flint” piece, which debuted at Art Basel, has received more than 24,000 retweets on Twitter and a video posted on Facebook just hit one million views. Of course, that Facebook video also features a range of conflicted opinions in the comments, but that’s the intent of good art—to create a dialogue and discussion, and also to make you think and, perhaps, feel a little uncomfortable in the process.
Ahead, we chat with Moore about how her “Flint” piece came into being, her role as an artist and activist, and how to be a good white ally. Scroll through to read what she had to say and to check out some of her other pieces along the way.