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Rising Stars: Meet Moriah LeFebvre

Today we’d like to introduce you to Moriah LeFebvre.

Hi Moriah, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I am an artist, teacher, and mother living and working in my hometown of Durham, North Carolina. I have known that I wanted to be an artist as far back as I can remember. Envisioning a life for myself that didn’t involve artistic creation never made any sense to me. In addition to working on my own art, I have been teaching art at local institutions, such as the Durham Arts Council, for almost fifteen years now. I love having the opportunity to share my love of art with others and guide and support them along their own path of creative exploration.

As a mixed media artist, my expertise spans a range of media, techniques, and creative practices. From 2014-2019, I primarily focused on a body of work called “Hometown (Inherited)” in which I examined the changing landscape of my hometown of Durham through a series of photography-based mixed media pieces on canvas. I was awarded the 2015 Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist Award in support of this project and later was selected to partner with Duke’s Bull City 150 project to create work for their public history exhibition Uneven Ground: The Foundations of Housing Inequality in Durham. In 2019, as a recipient of the 2019 David and Elizabeth Roderick Scholarship Award at Duke University, I entered the MFA|EDA (Masters of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts) program at Duke University, hoping to expand my ability to tell complex and powerful stories through a blending of analog approaches and experimental media. I just graduated from this program with two projects that I am incredibly excited to launch into the world.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not always been a smooth road. Trying to carve out a path for yourself–and find ways to survive–as an artist is not easy. During the pandemic, I found myself as a single mother of twins trying to find a way to balance to demands of motherhood (with my kids suddenly doing school virtually from home) with full-time grad school. There were moments when things became very challenging and I’m sure they will continue to be at times, as I have chosen a path that isn’t linear and doesn’t come with guarantees (although what does, honestly?). I’ve chosen to pursue the work that my heart has called out for as far back as I can remember and honestly, no other path would have felt right for me. I will say that in the very bumpiest, most challenging moments in my life, I have always had great support–from my mother in particular–and I cannot imagine where I would be otherwise. I always try to remain grateful and give credit where credit is due–for those both personal and institutional, who have supported my artist development and fulfillment. It really does take a village and I try to be a support for others in my life however I can as well.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
While at Duke, I created two projects that I am especially interested to talk more about. As the 2020-2021 Kenan Graduate Arts Fellow in Experimental and Documentary Arts, I focused on a body of work in which I examined the struggles and the resilience of the recovery community during COVID-19. For now, the exhibit, “Works in Rough Going: Recovery Community and Communication During the Pandemic,” is only available for the public virtually (https://kenan.ethics.duke.edu/works-in-rough-going/). Hopefully in the fall, however, the Keohane-Kenan Gallery space will be open to public access again and we’ll have a public reception for the work. In the meantime, I hope you will consider viewing the work virtually. There is also a video available on my website from our event in which we combined an artist talk with a panel discussion bringing together experts in clinical care, poetic expression, and visual art.

In addition to “Works in Rough Going,” I spent my time at Duke focusing on my animated thesis film, “by & by.” My film just premiered for a small private showing at Duke on the 8th and then premiered virtually on May 14th. There will be future opportunities for viewing the work so anyone interested should feel free to follow me or to reach out to me directly! In the film, I used hand-animation techniques to juxtapose the story of my great-grandmother Grace’s twin boys, whose lives were lost to eclampsia in China in 1919, with that of my own twin boys, who survived the same fate a century later in the United States. Using a range of mixed media, I drew source material from Grace’s memoirs, interviews with her last surviving child, public archives, and home videos. Words have an important role of this film, appearing as snippets of original text from Grace’s memoirs. The frames of my film are built in layers of acrylic paint and found and personal artifacts. The piece is both deeply personal and universal; I hope it prompts you to see the poetry that underlies our connectedness both in times of grief and in times of joy.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
As a young person, I loved people, human connection and was always creating. I cannot remember a time when I was not drawing, writing stories, acting–trying to find creative ways to express myself. At the age of 16, I decided to hone my focus to visual arts when I applied to UNCSchool of the Arts in Winston-Salem, where I completed my final two years of high school in an arts conservatory environment. My focus has remained on visual arts in the intervening years, although I have always continued to explore a broad range of expression within the visual arts.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Personal photo of my taken by Jade Wilson. All other photos are images by me, Moriah LeFebvre, of my own work or myself working.

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