Profile: Ayanah Moor (1973-)

Ayanah Moor is a conceptual artist working in print, video, mixed media, and performance. Her work addresses contemporary popular culture by interrogating identity and vernacular aesthetics. Much of her works center on hip-hop culture, American politics, black vernacular, and gender performance.


Education + Teaching

Moor received an MFA in printmaking from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 1998, and a BFA in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia in 1995.

Moor is presently an Associate Professor in the Department of Printmedia, at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Her prior appointment was at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.

With regards to her role as an educator, Moor “would like young artists to trust their own voice more, and not look for their work to be praised by their elders as much. Sometimes it’s disheartening to hear students say they don’t know what to think about something, and always looking for a ‘right’ answer. I want younger artists to recognize their value, and express themselves accordingly“.


She appropriates and revises existing material to invert and expand meaning. “My work explores the way popular culture is an articulation of our desires, our fears, our fantasies,” Moor has explained. “I think I have always been sensitive to the need to self-define, because black people in America have historically been affected by the ways in which others have defined them. For me, to revise: is to act upon a history. It is both an acknowledgment of history, a critique of it, and an alternative view. I am intrigued by the social constructs of race, just as I am intrigued by gender and sexuality. In my work I often play upon notions that we think of as fixed, to invite new definitions.”

Selected projects

She exhibited her work alongside Krista Franklin at the Produce Mode Gallery in Chicago in 2017, in a show entitled Quiet Storm. In 2015, Moor’s collaboration with Jasmine Hearn was included in Flow at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Flow was the fourth in the F-Series exhibitions at the Studio Museum. The piece is a performance artwork that translates drawing into sound and sound into movement. Flow is a response to the 1982 collaboration of Bill T. Jones and Keith Haring, Long Distance. Thanks For The Race [2014]: Thanks For The Race (with various participants), performance work incorporating wood, mats, rocks; ACRE Residency, Steuben, WI Queer & Brown in Steeltown [2013-12]: (collaboration with Raquel Rodriguez) podcast & blog project The Pittsburgh Passion Project, Independent Women’s Football League [2009]: Pittsburgh, PA Still [2006]: “Still” is a series of photographs that address how women are represented in contemporary rap music videos


In 2015 Ayanah Moor received a Hyde Park Art Center Jackman Goldwasser Residency, Chicago, IL.  In 2014 she received The Pittsburgh Foundation, Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Award ($7,500). In 2011 she was awarded a STUDIO for Creative Inquiry fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2011 The Pittsburgh Foundation awarded Moor and Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Award. In 2003 she received a Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation—Creative Fellowship Award and The Pittsburgh Foundation, Artist Award, Pittsburgh, PA. In 2002 Moor was awarded a Berkman Faculty Development Fund Grant, Carnegie Mellon University.

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