Local artist Carl. E. Moore is setting the stage for Memphis Brooks Museum of Art’s 2025 move to Downtown Memphis with a commissioned piece dedicated to local hero Tom Lee. “Memphis on the Mississippi: Ode to Tom Lee” is a bold acrylic on canvas painting depicting four African American individuals boating on the river. The subjects are dressed in different pastel-colored clothing looking in different directions, with an underdeveloped Memphis skyline in the background. 

Artist Carl E. Moore

A gilded boat representing Lee’s motorboat “Zev” bobs in the center of the painting.

Flat Imagery Bold Colors

Carl E. Moore’s paintings comment on a culture fraught with anti-Black rhetoric and sentiment, where the physical and psychological ramifications of racism seep into the private lives of the community he depicts. Using flat imagery and bold colors, Moore’s subjects fill their spaces, giving a sense of being overwhelmed. Amongst the grief, some images speak of resilience and strength. The subjects gaze out at the viewer, confronting the audience in the same way Moore asks us to confront the systemic oppression around us.

My work Deals with Color and identity. My goal is to compare social ideologies about race, stereotypes, and belief systems to everyday colors and the perception of these colors in our environment.

Carl E. Moore

As part of my process, black has always been a color of identity for Black people, Black American, African American, etc. Just as White, for Caucasian or those of European descent, and Brown for the South and Central American population. The color black has always been perceived as negative, so I’ve taken the color black and made it the narrative, and used it as part of the emotional conversation. The goal is to make the dialogue more about the artwork and less about the color of the characters, even though the characters are part of that narrative.


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