Allen Moore: Building Community Through Art

Allen Moore: Building Community Through Art

Creating a positive space for art-making
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Artist, curator and DJ Allen Moore is heavily involved in community engagement in the Chicagoland area where he inspires a call to activism through art and education. Moore wears many administrative hats in the art world, from co-curator at Comfort Station Logan Square to sound series curator at Experimental Sound Studio, facilitator / staff at ACRE Residency and meta-media mentor / educator at the McGaw YMCA in Evanston. Outside his involvement with these prominent arts organizations, Moore has also taught Foundation Drawing courses at Northern Illinois University and Governors State.


Moore draws inspiration from childhood memories, early trauma and a deep connection to music and family. Implementing a sense of personal history, Moore utilizes an inventive approach to 2D and sculpture - casting graphite records specifically recorded before 1987.


The records are cast from years 1986 and back, what Moore refers to as "proto years", meaning the years before his mother contracted a rare liver disease. Moore describes cherished memories of being five-years-old and listening to records with his mother every Friday in his family home. There was a happiness and a carelessness that was lost following his mothers illness. Music offers the unique opportunity to travel through time mentally. Hearing songs from his past, Moore is able to channel past moments and experiences felt while listening to that music.



Moore performs his graphite cast records in experimental sound pieces. The result is a series of tracks that hang in the air as inverted ghost-like sounds, Moore likens to the voices of beloved family members who have since past.


Graphite is a signature element of Moore's 2D and sculptural works. “Being poor, I didn’t have access to many materials, so I engineered mainly with paper and pencil.” It's often the case that graphite is dismissed in art due to its copious usage in contemporary practice. But being a derivative of carbon, it plays a role in the building blocks of life. Specifically, Carbon which makes up 18 percent of the human body. Moore reflects on the use of graphite as being essential and universal. He uses graphite in both traditional and non-traditional ways, to transcend the material beyond its predictable margin.



Moore's inventive process in art-making earned him a place as an ACRE artist in residence in 2015. From there he shifted a larger focus on sound design through ACRE's sound department, working in field recording and studio practice. Expanding on a skillset in digital recording, Allen now assists others with sound-based projects, provides workshops and tutorials on equipment, software, and more.


One of the many advantages of working as an artist in residence is the networking opportunities that occur there. The summer residency in Wisconsin lead Moore to collaborations with other mid-west artists and enlightened him to other independent artist-run initiatives in and around the city.

Now, as an ACRE staff member, Moore facilities programing for resident artists and acts as a liaison to visiting artist professionals. As faculty, Moore helps initiate and takes part in ACRE programing, through exhibitions in Chicago, and various art fairs around the city. Gallery programing gives greater exposure to ACRE artists. In addition to the physical space of the gallery, ACRE offers residents access to a user-friendly web space to upload work samples, information, writing or other works onto ACRE’s online flatfile. This online representation directs curators and critics to the artist's summer projects and more.


Moore's connections at ACRE helped broaden his knowledge of Chicago artist-run spaces. This started his involvement with Comfort Station Logan Square. At present, Moore is part of a team where each week a different artist group curates workshops within the station with one common goal: creating a good, safe, positive space for art-making.



Moore is affiliated with both the Comfort Station and the Art Leaders of Color Network (ALCN), who joined forces to present the P.O.W.E.R. Project. The project has been active since January 2017 and runs through the end of the month. The Comfort Station is transformed during these months to an ‘empowerment hub’ with a series of lectures, discussions, happenings, self-care exercises, and much more led by artists and members of the community. "The hope is that through series of engagements, people will be able to not only to lead their own actions but inspire others to take a stand against injustice and intolerance. The only way we can make it through these uncertain times is to do it together." (In reference to the current administration and overall political climate in the United States).

Moore extends his knowledge of sound design and experimentation to the non-profit, Experimental Sound Studio, an artist-run organization focused on sound in all its exploratory cultural manifestations. ESS is dedicated to supporting an eclectic, multidisciplinary model for the sonic arts, where Moore curates with other team members to facilitate in helping the work of artists at every stage of their careers and to reaching ever-widening audiences.


What draws Moore to these spaces is the unique independence they offer. "Independent means no limitations; you don't need the paintings on the walls to sell as a means to keep the doors from being closed." It's different in that way from commercial spaces. It's less exclusionary. These non-profits help democratize opportunity, which is an important focus for Moore. "What do commercial spaces do for the community?" Moore argues. These innovative organizations bring people together to share in thoughts and activism.



With each of Moore's creative endeavors he brings what can only be described as sage wisdom. Working with children 6th - 8th grade at McGraw YMCA, Moore inspires the youth to create and engage, offering affirmation and advocacy as well as knowledge. The Meta Media program is a fun, engaging youth space that fosters creative opportunities and connected learning. Youth makers at the YMCA choose how they participate in Meta Media, mostly engaging in do-it-yourself projects, and immersing themselves in projects based in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). Moore looks at this program as a way to offer some of the skills and encouragement that he wasn't afforded in his own youth. Giving back to the community gives many young, poor children a sense of purpose that keeps them invested in themselves and offers a more promising future. These projects build community and character in the lives of young creatives.


Allen moore has exhibited across Chicago and the greater mid-west, including exhibitions at Heaven Gallery, Chicago; Compound Yellow, Orland Park; Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago; Beauty Breaks, Session 6, Chicago; Governors State University; Roots & Culture Gallery, Chicago; Zhou B Art Center, Chicago; Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago; Northern Illinois University President's Home, DeKalb; The Ballroom, DeKalb; Suburban Kitchen, Evanston; Lucana Artists Lofts, Chicago; Phoenix Gallery, Chicago; The Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery, Palos Hills; Chicago State University; Neptune North, DeKalb; Gallery 215, DeKalb; Union Street Gallery, Chicago Heights; The GSU Visual Arts Gallery, University Park; Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills and more. His curatorial projects include GATHER, The P.O.W.E.R. Project, In(Finite),“Visible” for Austin Special and juried the exhibition Coffee Cart Nouveau at NIU. Moore holds an MFA from Northern Illinois University, an MA from Governors State and a BA from Chicago State. His work has been featured in publications including Sixty Inches From the Center, Movement Matters, Bad at Sports Contemporary Art Talk and featured in the Netflix Original Series “Easy” (Season 1 and 2).

Allen Moore is an ambitious contemporary artist and educator who wants to share the creative bug with everyone.

To follow Allen more closely

- Visit His Website
- Listen on SoundCloud
- "Follow" on Instagram


Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.
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Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

SEE ALSO: 23 Iconic Disney Channel Moments We Will Never Forget

3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

SEE ALSO: 20 Of The Best 2000's Tunes We Still Know Every Word To

30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

Cover Image Credit: http://nd01.jxs.cz/368/634/c6501cc7f9_18850334_o2.jpg

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Fiction: Curiosity Killed The Cat

A curious mind is a dangerous thing.

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Catheryn had finally found the One. They say that soulmates don't exist. But Damian Blackwell was something else. He was tall, stately and alluring, not to mention he had the softest black curls and the deepest blue eyes Catheryn had ever seen. She didn't even have to look at his Tinder profile twice before swiping right. Tinder. Her friends had rolled their eyes. How could she be dating someone she met online? They told her it was dangerous, that you'd never know who you would meet online. Catheryn was glad that she had ignored them, for she had finally met her soulmate.

It was true that Damian wasn't like other guys. He was thoughtful, unlike most of the members of the male species. In fact, he was so in sync with Catheryn's thoughts, it was almost as though he was reading her mind. On their very first date, Damian knew that Catheryn's favorite entree at the local diner was a cheeseburger with crinkle-cut fries on the side. He had other quirks too, such as his obsession with spraying air freshener wherever he went. It was as though he was afraid of releasing his body odor. But Catheryn didn't mind, she loved Damian, quirks and all. It was meant to be.

After six months of a blissful relationship, Catheryn had finally agreed to move into Damian's house. It was a Victorian manor located fifty miles north of the city center. It was colossal, with more bedrooms than Catheryn could count, but so ancient that paint was peeling off the walls and the metal hinges of every door whined. Damian had inherited the mansion from his parents, who had inherited it from theirs. He belonged to House Blackwell, he had claimed proudly. It was a legacy that had spanned from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I to the present day.

"You must be a part of that legacy," Damian had said, looking at her adoringly. It gave Catheryn shivers of delight just to think of it. Her and Damian, a family? It was more than she could ever have wished for.

Living together with Damian was more trying than Catheryn had expected. She always had the odd feeling that someone was watching her. Maybe it was the way the fire alarms blinked at her every time she entered the room. The alarms had been a new addition to the old house, Damian said. According to him, it was simply a malfunction in the wiring. More importantly, during her first time visiting the house, Damian had informed her that the basement was off-limits. It was for a project, he told her, a secret project. Catheryn had never been bothered much by it. A man deserved to have his secrets. After all, hadn't Damian more than made up for that one tiny little secret with the abundance of love he showered on her every day? Whatever was down there, it couldn't be too bad… Or so she thought.

Catheryn inherently knew that Damian didn't like the house. Every room, every wall, every nook of the house reminded him of the unhappy childhood he spent there. Damian's parents had been strictly against toys, as they believed that toys had no real purpose other than to waste one's money and idle one's children. Damian was forced to stay in his room, alone, with only the children playing on the other side of the glass window pane for company. Not only were his parents strict, they were also distant. An exchange of words between him and his parents was a momentous occasion. More often than the exchange of words was the deliverance of beatings, which often ended with Damian being locked in the basement for hours.

Catheryn understood why Damian didn't want her to go in there. He probably didn't want her to enter a place that had scarred him for life.

However, although Damian had deterred her from entering the basement, he would frequent it, which baffled Catheryn. She often found him spending more time in that room than he would with her. His visits to the room puzzled her. She would often hear loud thumping noises coming from downstairs, and Damian's gleeful laughter after every episode. Catheryn imagined that Damian was simply relaxing in the basement; there was probably a private bowling alley of some sort downstairs.

But how often would one receive packages for a bowling alley? Damian received packages for his "project" every week or so, which he would diligently track and regularly ask about. The arrival of each package would send him into a euphoric frenzy, after which he would make a beeline straight for the basement.

"Was he storing toys down there?" Catheryn wondered.

The thumping noises she heard could well be Lego blocks and he was probably excited at having received a new piece for his playroom. The man had never held a toy in his hands before; it was natural for him to get so worked up about it. Catheryn hadn't been bewildered, simply hurt that Damian didn't trust her enough to tell her about his newfound toy craze. They were soulmates, weren't they? She wanted him to be able to tell her everything; his hopes, his dreams, his fears. Even if it was just about some toys for toddlers, Catheryn wanted to be involved. The curiosity was killing her.

A curious mind is a dangerous thing. In the beginning, the mind is pristine, uncorrupted, one might even say content. However, the tiniest vector of curiosity swirling in its depths can lead to its ruination. With time, all of Catheryn's thoughts began to revolve around the contents of the basement, causing the subject to fester and grow until it consumed her every waking moment. Catheryn became a slave to her craving for knowledge, her desire to discover, to explore, to know.

Catheryn decided that she had to show that she was capable of handling it. She had to prove to Damian that she loved him unconditionally. In order to do that, however, she had to follow a very detailed game plan. First, she would wait for Damian to go to work in the morning. Next, she would go to the basement and find out the magnitude of this toy wonderland Damian had begun to build. Then, she would broach the topic of toys very carefully with him at dinner that night, and reassure him that she supported him and loved him.

Catheryn did not have to wait long for her plan to take effect. The very next day, when Damian had gone to work, she scurried down the stairs to the basement. Very cautiously, she turned the metal doorknob, which let out a small squeak of protest before opening the door. She fumbled for the light switch, promising herself she would make it up to Damian. When the lights were on, however, all thoughts vanished from her head, save the one telling her to escape.

In her direct line of sight lay two bodies, handcuffed to the wall with the skin peeling off with their clothes. There was scarcely any flesh on the first one. It had been lacerated to the point where it could not even be identified as human. Both corpses had a ball gag in between their jaws, preventing their owners from screaming or crying out as these horrific deeds had been done to them. Blood pooled on the floor, a river between banks of rotting flesh and yellowing bone. The metallic tang of the liquid caused Catheryn to retch her breakfast all over the granite.

On a shelf beside the light switch lay a row of jars, each containing a different body part. One had eyeballs, pulled directly from their sockets, another had fistfuls of hair, ripped from the scalp, while a third contained fingers of all shapes and sizes. They all seemed to contain an embalming agent, a preservative, preventing the gruesome collections from decaying.

The same could not be said for the bodies. Upon stepping into the room, Catheryn noticed there was a line of them from right to left. They were all chained to the wall by their limbs, which was where the similarity ended. The rightmost body was nothing more than a pile of harrowing bones, while the leftmost had a distinct human form, with arms outstretched and lips begging mercy. Catheryn could not decide which was more jarring.

A computer screen flashed on the far right of the room, capturing her attention. Catheryn walked up to it, her eyes growing wider as they scanned the screen. In monochrome, she saw split screen footage of every room in the house. There were no cameras in the house as per Catheryn's knowledge. Unless…

She glanced at the footage again, confirming her suspicions. Each segment showed the room from the point of view of the fire alarms. Catheryn's gut wrenched, as her intuition begged her to leave. Choosing to ignore it, she scanned the computer desk, finding ripped open packages that previously contained whips, gags and a container of formaldehyde. Her eyes caught onto the leather bound book on the computer desk. Was it really leather? Or some warped variant made of human skin? She ignored her thoughts, flipping through the book as her heart thumped wildly. Inside, she saw pictures of women, complete with their names, their ages, and their times.

At first, Catheryn thought the time was in terms of weeks they had dated Damian. However, at a second glance, she noticed that the time represented the number of weeks taken by each victim to die. Her heart palpitated wildly as she read the last page. Stupid girl, stupid girl, stupid girl. It seemed to be saying with each beat. How could she have been so foolish so as to trust someone so openly? The last page featured a picture of Catheryn, as well as notes about her favorite food, her best friends, the names of her family members, even her Facebook password, which she was yet to divulge to a living soul.

Catheryn glanced at the picture of herself, at a younger version of her smiling innocently at the camera. How Catheryn longed to go back to those days, to days untouched by this satanic evil.

She had to leave before this horrific man returned, before he did do to her what he had done to all those before her. She had to leave, she knew that. She had to get away from Damian, from his house, from his basement. She had to escape before he found out she had been there, before he entered his lair like a monstrous spider finding her entangled in the web he had woven. Oh, what a naive creature she had been. How had Catheryn slept all those nights, with a murderer beside her? How would she ever get a night's sleep again? She had to leave, she had to get out, she had to pack her belongings and leave the city, leave the country if she must. She had to leave, she had to leave, she had to-

Catheryn's insides screamed as she felt his warm breath on her neck. Tingles of attraction that previously ran down her spine had transformed into shivers of terror. She whimpered, her breath shaky as she felt his fingertips glide slowly up the length of her forearms. It was over. He was here.

Damian smiled deviously behind her. "At last."

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