Artist Mario Moore with a portrait of facilities worker Clyde Huntley
Ricardo Barros

Challenging social perceptions is the goal of artist Mario Moore’s series of portraits, “The Work of Several Lifetimes,” which showcases black men and women in blue-collar jobs around the Princeton campus.

Moore said he was inspired by his father, who worked as a security guard. “Generally, portraits at elite institutions are created to represent owners, donors, deans, presidents, and scholars,” he wrote in his artist statement. “But I wanted to ask the question ... Who deserves to be recognized?”

Art Museum security guard Michael Moore with his portrait
Hope VanCleaf/Lewis Center for the Arts

During his Hodder Fellowship last year, Moore began work on the series by walking around campus, meeting people, and starting to sketch them. The portraits were unveiled during a ceremony Sept. 19 and will be featured in the Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex through Nov. 17. 

A portrait of Campus Dining workers Howard Sutphin, Kaniesha Long, and Valeria Sykes, with Sutphin and Long (holding her granddaughter A’ziure) in front.
Hope VanCleaf/Lewis Center for the Arts

Kaniesha Long, a Campus Dining employee who is featured with two co-workers in the portrait Several Lifetimes, said she was blown away by the art. “I’m proud to be in the picture,” she said. 

Others who were featured in the paintings also beamed with pride as they posed with their portraits during the opening reception. Moore said his work explores “a sense of power and individuality,” and that he hopes those who view the portraits will see the workers “in a different way.”