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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Where You Will Be Happiest Settling Down, According To Your Zodiac Sign

Use your horoscope to discover where you would be happiest settling down.
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You ever experience a stroke of wanderlust and have the urge to just pick up and move? Here's where you're headed, according to your zodiac sign.

1. Cancer – little cabin in the woods.

I'm starting with Cancer because we are currently in Cancer season (June 21 - July 22). Cancer is a water sign that is known to be easy-going and affectionate. Cancer's romanticism and obsession with happiness will leave them quite content with a little log cabin in the woods, where they can snuggle up to their love and fall asleep to the sound of rain.

2. Leo – Los Angeles.

"Hopped off the plane at LAX, with a dream and my cardigan. Welcome to land of fame excess."

Leos, AKA Lions, are fire signs known for their love of the spotlight and all things exciting. Fun-loving Leos belong in the city of angels, also known as, LA.

3. Virgo – the suburbs.

The name Virgo comes from the word "virgin," and the innocence also applies to their hardworking and kind personality, where many of them prove to be the purest of people. This Earth sign is known for their tendency to worry too much, therefore they belong someplace safe and suburban somewhere out west.

4. Libra – Paris

This air sign is characterized by their love of romance, and therefore day dream about the city of love: none other than Paris, France.

5. Scorpio – Canadian mountains.

Also known as Psycho Scorpio, this water sign is known for being quick-witted, mysterious, and wise beyond their years. But Scorpios aren't particular fans of anyone who isn't themselves, so they would be thrilled in a secluded mountaintop mansion in Canada where no one can get to them and they can scheme world domination in private.

6. Sagittarius – New York City.

"If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere!"

This fire sign, which spans Thanksgiving and Christmas time, dreams of travelling the world. These feisty and restless people can never stay in one place doing one thing for that long. Therefore, they belong in the city of dreams AND the city that does Thanksgiving and Christmas like no one else can: the Big Apple.

7. Capricorn – New England countryside.

This earth sign is known for its down-to-earth and responsible nature. Capricorns are the dependable and trustworthy people you can always lean on. My mother, my best friend, and my boyfriend are all Capricorns, and I don't think it's a coincidence.

Capricorns are best suited for the countryside, because they value their peace and quiet so much.

8. Aquarius – Myrtle Beach.

This air sign is known for its subdued nature and love of anything having to do with sunshine, warm weather, and water. Therefore they belong in the South – namely tourist central of South Carolina: Myrtle Beach. Aquarius will be right at home among the hustle and bustle of a mini beach city year round.

9. Pisces – Hawaiian Islands.

This water sign, which is ruled by Neptune, and symbolized by the fish, obviously belongs on the water. Pisces are imaginative and artsy, too, often dreaming of a more beautiful world. Pisces should move to Hawaii because their appreciation for beauty and the ocean will be fulfilled there. They will be right at home on the pink and black sand beaches or by the natural forest waterfalls.

10. Aries – New Orleans.

This fire sign carries a strong enthusiasm for life and round-the-clock energy, which leads them to "Big Easy" New Orleans, Louisiana. Can you think of a place any more fun?

11. Taurus – Italian villa.

This Earth sign is known for being realistic, level-headed, and in tune to the natural world. Because of Taurus' love of cooking, gardening, and loving the world we're in, Taurus would be very happy on an Italian villa, with land to roam and garden flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Put a table on your patio, and Taurus is ready for a late evening, candlelit, outdoor dinner.

12. Gemini – Boston.

This air sign is symbolized by the twins because of Gemini's two personalities: the angel and the devil. And after living in Boston for two years, I discovered Boston has two sides of its own: one is the downtown, hustle and bustle of the dirty grimy city we all love anyway, and the other is the deep American history around every corner and the way Boston is all wrapped up to make it feel like a small town sometimes.

Boston has everything so Gemini will never be bored: the thrill of the city, the wonderful history of colonial America, the greenery of the Boston Common, and the water, which provides a taste of nautical life. Gemini's best fit would be a top-floor Beacon Hill apartment in Back Bay, because it's an escape from the busy city life without missing out on any of the action.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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It Is Pointless To Pity The Homeless

Guilt is the silent killer of political action.

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Two summers ago, when I was an intern at The Father McKenna Center in Washington DC, I met Jason, who was homeless. I had just finished closing the shelter's computer lab for the evening, and the attendees of the AA meeting in the shelter's cafeteria had started to say their goodbyes and disperse until next week. As I was leaving to take the subway home, and as he was leaving to walk back to his encampment, wherever it may have been, Jason and I converged with each other at the front door of the shelter, and we introduced ourselves to each other.

Jason had two children, aged four and six, both of whom were protected from him under custody by his former wife. She had made the decision to divorce him because of his drug use, which posed a danger to the couple's children. (Jason did not hesitate to admit to this.) Shortly after the separation from his family, he became homeless. He had a high school degree and some former experience doing construction work. Aged into his mid 30's with minimal employment, Jason had been struggling to find a job for years.

As we walked, he told me about his kids, and how sometimes he hears about them during occasional phone calls with his wife. For a moment, he turned his head to look at me in my eyes, and he quietly told me about how proud he was of his daughters for completing the first and third grades of elementary school.

If you are homeless, it takes an immense amount of courage to make the commitment to go to a homeless shelter. I believe that the one thing that most people struggle with, homeless or not, is the challenge of confronting one's own demons. Jason had demons, luggage, regrets, and so on - I had those too. Jason had first stepped at The Father McKenna Center shortly before I began my internship. As I performed the duties of my internship, Jason and I, together, experienced a great turbulence in our individual missions to confront our demons; and with that turbulence came sobriety. Not relief or improvement, but sobriety. True self-improvement is a year-long commitment, but self-awareness is a skill which can be utilized at any time.

Jason and I spoke several times throughout my internship. One of the last interactions I had with his before I completed my term happened again at the front entrance of the shelter. He told me that after years of searching, he had found the initiative to apply for a job. "Even though she and I needed to go our own ways," he said, "I still want to show my wife that I care about her. We're not married, but I still want to provide for her and the kids. I don't know how they feel about me, but I want to show my daughters that I am still their father, and that I love them."

When I started my internship at the shelter, I genuinely believed that I would come out of it depressed and disillusioned. But I learned to look beyond the misfortune and suffering, and with that perspective, I started to find more and more inspiration in the facets of life by which I had previously felt discouraged and depressed. I have not seen Jason in two summers, but I think about him every day, for strength.

Say, for instance, that you start to feel as though the daily grind of your summer job is starting to become too monotonous. Us undergrads are tirelessly told by our advisors that the best possible use of our time during the summer, outside of college and other than working for pay, is time spent volunteering and building up our resumes. After some online research and phone calls, you break down your volunteering options to three different nonprofit organizations in your area: Your first option is to spend 3-5 hours once a week helping a local community center care for its flower garden, fresh herb greenhouse, and wildlife sanctuary. Your second option is to spend Tuesday and Thursday evenings bathing, petting, and reading storybooks to all the dogs and cats at a nonprofit rescue shelter. Your third option is to spend 5 hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at an inner-city homeless shelter and rehabilitation center for men who have been recently released from prison.

This where the conflict begins. Deep inside, you know that volunteering at the men's shelter is, in your opinion, the most valuable kind of work you can do. Human beings require more attention than plants and pets. Humans beings need to be kind to each other, and so, you may want to volunteer at the shelter.

The problem is certainly not that nobody wants to volunteer at homeless shelters. I consider myself an optimist, and I still think that the majority of people living in the United States wish to care for and support each other. The true problem is that even when a good-minded, empathetic, caring person wants to offer their kindness to the homeless, there are layers upon layers of illusions, false impressions, misconceptions, misunderstandings, and (most importantly), miscommunications which prevent them from doing so. What must truly be addressed is not how much attention is being paid to homelessness, but how attention is paid. There are many kinds of layers of illusion; the majority of them are certainly racial illusion. A vast number are economic. Others, however, are emotional. A lot are just flat-out moral as well.

The growing epidemic of homelessness, as an affliction, is the product of political injustice, racist systems, and greed. But the homeless lifestyle itself, however, is not political in nature. Homeless people are not statistics in a study, neither are they variables in a social equation. Homelessness is a daily struggle for a human life, and those who are homeless suffer. They are as emotional and as sentient as the well-off office workers who pelt them with quarters as though they're fountains.

Understanding homelessness is especially hard for people on the polar opposite side of the social/economic spectrum from the homeless. It is somehow harder for a wealthy and educated person to understand homelessness than it is for someone from lower-class origins to do so. As I said before, I genuinely believe that the vast majority of people on this Earth have the moral initiative to help those less fortunate - but this initiative is excessively overridden by the reflexive tendency most people have to compare and juxtapose themselves. This act of reflexive juxtaposition is what scares most people away from homeless shelters.

Call it what you want - "juxtaposition" is not the only word one can use to describe this feeling. Some people might call themselves "overqualified." From a political perspective, some have referred to it as "white guilt." Regardless of what you call it, it is reflexive. Homeless people, just upon sight, are registered with labels and false truths. The visceral, instinctive reaction to a homeless person is "Look forward, walk firm, and don't make eye contact." This is what needs to change.

In western society, people who grow up privileged - with parents, shelter, an education, and relationships - are subconsciously taught, unintentionally encouraged, and silently conditioned by the people around them to treat the homeless with, above all else, pity. The etiquette of reacting to a homeless person suggests something of a "passive melancholy." Like I mentioned before, under this mannerism of avoidant sorrow, homelessness is not a condition of life. It is a political symbol. The stumbling beggar in the subway and the raggedy busker on the street corner are effectively dehumanized by default; as long as they are evidently homeless, their role in the social dynamic of these public places is automatically different from yours and mine. The status of homelessness completely nullifies - no, prevents - a person's worthiness and rightful entitlement to human attribution, and without mercy, they are turned into something which is not human: a figure which is nothing but a representation of itself.

After years of riding the bus and subway, I have become aware of several different categories in which the people around me fit; I see the day laborers, who are categorized by being older men, clad in paint-stained construction pants, functioning in close-knit groups of six or seven. I see the government employees, who are categorized by the loudness of their gazes of exhaustion, directionless and unfixed, garbed in outdated albeit notably well-fitted suits, bland floral blouses, sky-blue button downs, the incredible pant suits, and khakis, and khakis, and khakis. I see the college-aged summertime interns running coffee for politicians who never remember their names, and they, too, are categorized; specifically by their calculated movements, blatantly artificial exteriors, and the endearing aura of simultaneous youthful naivety and capitalistic millennial-themed ambition (they also act like they know where they're going, when really, they don't, but they never stop to ask for directions). I see the mothers, the trust-fund white kids from Gonzaga, the beatniks from Howard, the Reagan-bound luggage-bearing vagabonds, the punks, the academics, the racists, the anarchists, the activists, the drunks, the wandering, the sleeping, and of course, the emblematic tourists in their MAGA hats, graphic tees, and jorts.

What kind of a response is demanded of those who choose to protect the weak? How are the wounded addressed by the healers? How should I talk to someone who suffers? The photographers, the journalists, and the volunteers cannot hope to rile a revolution alone. Neither can the teachers hope to raise a generation freed from toxicity alone, nor can the young politicians on the Hill hope to deliver their country to safety and stability alone. The problem of homelessness can be addressed, as can it be confronted, observed, studied, and journalized. Don't get me wrong, though - this type of action is deeply important: The awareness of a problem creates an opportunity for its solution. But the raising of awareness is not enough. The confrontation of our reality is not enough. To take the first step beyond awareness is to give attention to those who are in need of it; to attend to the weak and the wounded, and to act for their protection and their healing. In the words of the French revolutionary Simone Weil: "Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity."


Song suggestion: LCD Soundsystem - American Dream

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