Artist Moe Gram painting on a floor

Paint Studio Demo Artist Moe Gram

Moe Gram will be in the Paint Studio demonstrating abstract compositions and collage as painting noon–3 pm on June 15-16 & 22-23. The Paint Studio is included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and under.

Moe Gram is a local artist and designer. Born and raised in southern California, Moe Gram’s life became heavily influenced by hip-hop culture and urban LA street art. These memories and growing up with a diverse ethnic background are huge inspirations for all creative works by Gram. In 2014 she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree with a special focus in studio fine art and a minor in cultural studies from California State University Bakersfield. From 2016 to early 2018 Gram worked on projects including but not limited to: fine art elective instruction for the Denver Schools of Science and Technology, after school enrichment programs through Creative Strategies for Change, and community partnerships with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America through Grand Design, Inc. Currently, Gram is the fines arts educator at STRIVE Prep Green Valley Ranch Middle School and sitting board member of Birdseed Collective. Gram also partners with Odessa Nomadic to cultivate the Creatives at Roundish Tables community, who meets monthly to engage in a wide range of round table discussions in varying locations throughout the Denver metro area.

The mixtures of traditional street art materials and my love for spontaneous abstract mark-making has blossomed into a personal style that is best defined as graffiti-inspired abstract expressionism.

– Moe Gram
Abstract painting by Moe Gram
Moe Gram. Damage Reports. Mixed media collage on canvas, 18 x 30 in. 2018. Photo credit: Drew Austin. Courtesy of the artist.

Laura Thompson: What will your demo at the DAM look like? What can visitors expect?

Moe Gram: Visitors will have the opportunity to witness collage being used as a technique to create two paintings. Throughout the demo, guests will have the opportunity to submit personal items, artwork scraps, or paper as potential pieces to be implemented in the works.

LT: In 2016 you stated: “A curator once described my work as graffiti-inspired abstract expressionism. I agree.” Could you discuss how you see street art and abstract expressionism in your work?

MG: I have always been inspired by the materials used by graffiti artists. Growing up, I was heavily exposed to break dancing, graffiti, and hip-hop culture. These influences paired with graffiti materials have been essential to the flow and general development of the artworks I have created over the last few years. The spontaneity of expressionists' works is much more aligned to my natural expression compared to the very precise styles of seasoned graffiti writers. The mixtures of traditional street art materials and my love for spontaneous abstract mark-making has blossomed into a personal style that is best defined as graffiti-inspired abstract expressionism.

LT: In addition to being an artist, you are also committed to fine art education and community enrichment services. Could you talk about how your artistic practice is impacted by these other dedications?

MG: It is important for me as a creative to really challenge the ways I create art and interact with Denver communities. The more I engage in activities with disadvantaged youth and underserved citizens, the more my concepts for public art, studio works, and interactive projects have evolved to portray themes of empathy, consideration, personal growth, and self-acceptance. Over time, I hope to cultivate a body of work that acts as a small gateway for human beings to stay connected to their humanity.

LT: Your artworks are distinguished by your playful use of line and color. Could you talk about the use of color and line in your painting practice?

MG: Many of my compositions start with large blocks of color that become partnered with quick gestural marks, smaller blocks of color and a unique element that is highly dependent on the concept of the work. After assessing the composition I will often use various qualities of line to either calm or excite the overall composition. Colors are often determined by the general concepts and what my goals are for viewer interpretation. Currently, I am inspired by the juxtaposition of bright pastels and soft neutrals. My preference, however, is to utilize the entire color wheel as frequently as possible.

LT: What are you thinking about when you begin a new painting? Do you decide on a specific design beforehand or do your compositions take form more organically?

MG: When I begin a new painting I think about where I would like to anchor the composition. This is accomplished by creating a quick and sloppy gesture with no true intention. In general, I'd say the compositions I create are developed organically. The chosen materials are the true determining factor of the final outcome of the work.

Laura Thompson is an artist and studio programs intern in the department of learning and engagement.

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