May 3, 2024

Practice of Art Major Cary Moore ’24 Discusses Plenitude, her Senior Exhibition

By Kirstin Ohrt
Department of Art & Archaeology


“I’ve been thinking about buckets for some time,” begins Practice of Art Senior Cary Moore’s explanation of the concepts underlying her exhibition Plenitude. She explores the forms and functions of rudimentary tools used in the everyday moments in life, those that lie between the ones we commit to memory—the wheels on a dolly we awkwardly maneuver, the bucket we fill or empty, or the knife we use in preparation of something.

Moore drew inspiration from Ursula Le Guin’s The Carrier Bay Theory of Fiction, which posits that, contrary to popular narrative, the first tool was less likely a spear for hunting, than a pocket for gathering. “Not only did it spark my interest, but it articulated it,” said Moore. “I’m interested in these basic actions that go into the void of our memory, like moving things from place to place.”

Cary Moore stands in an orange tank with hands clasped behind her back, standing in front of a large charcoal drawing,

Cary Moore stands in front of her charcoal work entitled “Soft Knives.” Photo by Kirstin Ohrt

Moore comes at this concept by rendering objects undefinably. In fact, she aims to veil the identity of her subject matter. One of her sculptures illustrates the point. A smooth alabaster over-sized thimble-like object sits in a crumpled bag on a platform. It’s neither a phallus, nor a thimble, or a knife, but rather a plug in a bag on a curb. Ruminating on the objects, Moore liked the interplay of meaning and nonsense, the similarity in word forms of the two words “plug” and “curb.” “To plug is a verb and a noun…to plug a plug, to curb a curb…I was thinking of curbing your plug,” she said laughing, “all these weird nonsensical basic actions.”

Needless to say, Moore is not interested in making the objects she renders explicitly recognizable. “One of the things I’m happy about with the show is that no one really knows what things are.”

A painter at heart, Moore used acrylic paint both conventionally, in her direct depictions of a bucket, and unconventionally; she painted onto 3′ × 4′ sheets of glass, peeled the paint off in skin-like sheets, and formed them like paper maché over wire or steel rod armatures into objects. The largest is an over-sized vessel, roughly 5′ tall, resembling a bucket. Moore worked on it slowly for weeks—and then for 14 uninterrupted (excepting the trip to Dunkin Donuts at 6am) hours the night before the exhibition.

The six large charcoal works were also time-intensive. In one, which Moore refers to as “the U-shaped one,” she drew “line by line by line by line” for days. “There would be times I’d work on it all day and then I’d have to stop for two days,” she said. Shaped like a uterus or a tongue, this work hides two people facing each other, barely separated, but unable to see each other.

Photo Gallery

In the work Moore is most proud of, she has delicately rendered 28 egg-like objects wedged into four rows. “Soft knives was the word on my mind as I worked on this,” she said. The work is as richly impactful and engaging as it is mysterious. “I tried to make things that are both highly specific and very ambiguous. I think of those as soft knives but I’m glad that they don’t read as any given object,” Moore said. Of all of the works, this one stands out. “Soft Knives is a special piece to me,” said Moore humbly. “Much more frequently than not I finish something and feel some level of dissatisfaction with it. But with this…. I’m just like ‘damn!’,” she says, beaming.

See Plenitude at Hurley Gallery from April 29 – May 3, 2024.



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