During the late 1700s, Creole women of African descent who lived in Louisiana were prohibited from showing their hair. Instead, laws were enacted that forced them to cover it with a head wrap known as a tignon. A sign of oppression, the Tignon Laws reflect a time period when a targeted group of individuals were treated unfairly because of their physical differences.
Customarily, you would encounter this type of reflection by way of a history book; however, if you are privy to the work of James Douglas Moore III, JD, a Dallas-based visual artist whose affinity for representation brings his work to life, the history lesson takes on a unique form. His recent work on a project that draws attention to the tignon—in both photography and fine oil paintings—reflects the manner in which art can take on new purpose and meaning while sparking conversations about important topics, like diversity.
“This is a gateway into the past but infusing it with the contemporary, to build a bridge,” JD says. “Diversity is the larger umbrella of what it is, and I address it in my work, particularly through representation.”
For JD Moore, diversity translates into complexity and stimulation.
“You have an opportunity to learn when things are most complex, so I think that in regard to diversity and why it matters, you want to learn and to be stimulated, so I feel like they go hand-in-hand. In my art, I have diversity in colors, compositions, layers, and meanings, which makes for a better result. Diversity becomes an imperative, and it is integrated.”
JD often creates that level of complexity through juxtaposition. Finding inspiration in European oil paintings, he creates contemporary fine oil paintings that feature more diverse subjects and displays the pieces side-by-side. From JD’s perspective, he is challenging society to acknowledge the beauty and value in both works.
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“I am actively looking for solutions and producing content that is diverse,” JD says. “I don’t have a distaste or hatred for people who don’t look like me, but by injecting a new sort of variable, which are people of color, I feel like an opportunity to acknowledge diversity exists.”
And while JD embraces art as a medium for representation—especially for diverse subjects—he feels that overall, diversity and representation are absent from more sought after spaces. This, in his opinion, is a missed opportunity.
“I think there is a lack of diversity in galleries and higher-traffic fairs [for example],” JD says. “Without the presence of differences, there is no opportunity to learn about them. Without diversity, we are in a sort of echo chamber, surrounded by things that are identical only to what you put out. You keep seeing the same thing. If we do not acknowledge our differences and let different people in certain situations, then we will continue perpetuating the problem.”
JD Moore on the cover of Local Profile
The cover of our first issue as Local Profile, our March 2019 Diversity Issue, was created by JD Moore and presents a portrait of the human race as we are, individuals and part of the crowd. With this cover, we’re celebrating our differences and seeking out our commonalities because, as Moore illustrates, we look the same from afar; but up close, we are all different.