The Princeton University hallways got a huge makeover recently thanks to 32 year old artist Mario Moore. He happened to be wandering around campus and noticed many portraits of former deans and presidents around campus and realized it was missing something. The portraits on the walls were mainly white males. Like many schools around the country the school was missing a diverse illustration of the blue-collar workers that keep Princeton University running in one piece.

Moore felt the need to honor those, especially African Americans. The idea was something that stuck with him for years while growing up with a mother who taught art classes and a father who was a security guard at an art museum. In an interview, Moore explained “I wanted to make black people like my dad visible and put them in positions of power. In America, we put people in certain hierarchies and usually don’t consider blue-collar workers to be on the same level as other people around campus. It became important to me to change that.”

After receiving the annual Princeton University Hodder Fellowship of $83,000 for artists and other creative types, Moore moved to Princeton. He later created an exhibit, titled “The Work of Several Lifetimes” that was put on display for 3 months at the university. Princeton University bought five of the exhibited paintings to hang permanently around the school.The amazing project had paintings that show more than just the personalities of his subjects and more about their lives and experiences. 

 “I wanted the people in my paintings to be powerful and prominent and look directly out at the viewer and draw them into the work. I wanted the viewer to see that gaze and directly share in that person’s story,” Moore said.