As a rule, artists tend to draw inspiration from their surroundings. Their work embodies their experiences in the world and how they reacted to them. Woodie Moon, a creative director for an advertising company by day and multimedia conceptual artist by night, goes beyond the norm by creating art not only based on her surroundings but with direct correlation to them.
I first came across Moon’s work a few years back; I happened on her Instagram page and was immediately drawn in by the bold yet simple, often with text-overlaid snippets of her video-work, snapshots of her collages and paintings.
I continued following Moon’s posts, impressed by the diversity of her abilities, her more recent work moved me for its meaningful references and collages of pop culture that let us into Moon’s past as a gay female in South Carolina.
Of course, gayness is almost boring now, but I still use my art to fully realize who I am.
Most of her work is cumulative of things that are important to her in life. “As a gay woman who grew up in a state of self-suppression, there were no gay people in the media to look up to. Of course, gayness is almost boring now, but I still use my art to fully realize who I am,” she told me during a meeting we had at Le District in the FiDi.
Moon is self-described as someone who has the ability to “identify patterns or connections between situations that are not obviously related, and to identify key or underlying issues in complex situations.” For all of the connective creativity that must be racing through her mind at all times, Moon carries herself with a humble grace and interest in others.
In her latest project, she both relied on the public for participation while also offering them a service towards personal betterment. In “24/7 perspective” she melded her experience in advertising and art.
“One day I walked past this sign for a 24/7 emergency plumber service in the city. It struck me that at any hour of the day, you can call a plumber to show up and service your home and that is considered an emergency but living with anxiety is not,” said Moon, disbelief dancing in her eyes even months after this revelation first took place. Moon was then an avid reader of books on spirituality and self-help. She wanted to learn more about controlling her mind and directing her emotions to better herself as a person and live the best life possible.
Previous: Woodie Moon, 2018. Photograph courtesy of the artist. Above: Woodie Moon, “24/7 Perspective,” 2017.
Moon took this concept and ran with it, determined to provide something that would give people with mental health struggles a bit of perspective to guide them onto a healthy path. She created the fictitious service “24/7 Perspective,” a 24-hour business that caters to people who are going through mental issues and need to hear them from a different viewpoint.
She constructed an Instagram, set up a phone line and made a company website. The phone number, 917-460-7011, is available at all hours for people to call. They are prompted with four mental health options they may need perspective on. Upon selection, the caller is given words of wisdom and has the option to leave a recorded message of affirmation, reassurance, or simple rationality. The recordings are then anonymously emailed to the artist herself.
Woodie Moon x Saks Fifth Avenue, 24/7 Perspective, 2017.
After the company’s Instagram gained a good amount of traction, it caught the attention of Sak’s Fifth Avenue. Pretty soon, Moon was coordinating a pop-up shop at Sak’s with “24/7 Perspective” graphics on T-shirts. In September 2017, the pop-up store opened in Tribeca and was open for a month.
As for the rest of Moon’s art, it is a combination of things that have inspired her in some way. She gets most of her inspiration from pop culture. “I like connecting dots,” said Moon. “An idea is not just art. It connects to real, tangible things, which is basically what I do at my day job.”
Many of her personal projects connect to things that inspired her as a young gay woman growing up in the South, where suppression was second nature.
Still from Woodie Moon’s “Girlhood.” Courtesy of the artist.
“I grew up without cable, so the only time I got to watch MTV was at my aunt’s house. There are specific music videos that had such an effect on me and hold so much value to me to this day,” she told me.
At Le District, Moon recalled for me the types of music videos she devoured as a young kid (Madonna, Gwen Stefani, etc.). Her video collages include footage and images of these artists strangely juxtaposed with photos and graphics of cake.
The video was about how the only way you could really indulge yourself with was cake. That and suppressed gayness.
“So I made the video [a collage of Madonna’s ‘Take a Bow, Babs Bunny, and a cake montage to name a few] because ‘Take a Bow’ was so sexualized and made me feel a way I didn’t yet understand, and my mom baked cakes so we always had cake supplies and sugar lying around. The video was about how the only way you could really indulge yourself with was cake. That and suppressed gayness,” said Moon with a wry smile.
Moon is inspired by food, enlightenment and the pursuit of personal mastery. As for her own mastery, the piece of work she is proudest of was the 24/7 Perspective concept.
“I wrote all the copy for the website, I took all of the photos, I learned how to create a phone line and did it. I think it taught me to be a better person and live more intentionally,” said Moon.
Moon is a woman with energy coursing through her veins; her enthusiasm for life and creating is infectious. Her passion for living a happy and mentally healthy lifestyle is sewn into her work and her very persona, making you almost feel guilty for not taking as much care of your emotions.
Still from Woodie Moon’s “Girlhood.”
The thing that drew me to her work most was her eagerness and strong ability to integrate art, fashion, and advertising into her life. When asked if she would look into further collaboration with the fashion work, Moon affirmed. She has a huge respect for fashion and is looking to dip her creative pen into as much as she can.
Although she is proud of her work as an artist Moon is not ready to quit her day-job. “My dream would be to keep working. I enjoy it—I like interacting with people and leading a team. However, I always want to do my projects on the side,” Moon said, and with a grin, “I think they’ve helped me to embrace who I am.”