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Larry Moore's environmental paintings imagine a world where animals triumph

Wildlife Rising

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Larry Moore's work stands in clear contrast to the work of artists around him at SEWE. At an outdoor wildlife festival you expect to see images of intricate, beautifully rendered nature scenes. You don't expect to see a painting of a hippopotamus standing in an abandoned industrial site or a lone elephant at an empty cotton gin. Moore's paintings are meant to be visual narratives that present a post-apocalyptic world where animals inhabit spaces once held by humans. The juxtaposition creates curious, cautionary tales that both question our relationship with nature and elevate the natural world's virtue.

"My work is basically an idea that I developed a long time ago which is to comment on man's and animal's place in the world and the interaction of the two," explains Moore. "The basic premise asks: If people went away, would animals start to reclaim the space?" Animals exotic and familiar stand in derelict or empty homes, office buildings, and factories. You can almost hear the overwhelming silence in these works.

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Do the paintings suggest that humans are the cause of their own demise? That's for you to decide. "I'm very careful about beating people over the head with statements of global warming or trophy hunting because that doesn't work," says Moore. "I don't want to be preachy about it. They're thinking pieces basically, but they're beautiful in their own right. You can take them however you receive them. Everyone writes a different story when they see the pieces. It's often an open-ended narrative even if I have a very specific idea."

He's been working on the pieces he'll show at SEWE for about five years. Although they incorporate wildlife, Moore doesn't consider himself a wildlife painter. "I think these may really push the boundaries of what the crowd will like. I mean, they would certainly fit in a lot of more contemporary galleries, but they're pretty different from what I saw at SEWE last year. I have an underwater scene of jellyfish floating in front of sunken cars, for example, but it takes a minute to figure out what they're floating in front of. It's a very subtle message about dumping stuff in the water, but at the same time, it's a beautiful painting so it works on these two levels."

Moore proves that pretty pictures can carry a message, too - PROVIDED
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  • Moore proves that pretty pictures can carry a message, too

Larry has spent much of his life educating others on the creative process and has taught creative workshops for 30 years. He also worked as an illustrator for much of his professional career, primarily dealing with graphic design and advertising. Both his study of the creative process and his work as an illustrator, which is a very concept-driven art form, has led him to produce the narrative-based pieces you see today.

"I didn't want to just paint stuff. I didn't want to just paint animals in the forest because everybody does that, so I came up with this other angle that people really respond to," he says. "One of the things I've always been a proponent of is developing intent in your work and being very specific about the parameters of what you're doing. Even if you're just painting a marsh, it's more than just getting the colors and the edges and the shapes right. You need to have an idea behind it."

Moore's work will be on display in SEWE's fine art gallery, located in the Charleston Place Ballroom.

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