BY Samson Kambalu in Profiles | 14 DEC 20
Featured in
Issue 215

Artists’ Artists: Samson Kambalu Is Rallying for Taylor Moon

What do art and cheerleading have in common? Moon thinks they both come from the core

BY Samson Kambalu in Profiles | 14 DEC 20

‘Samson Kambalu Recalls an Interview with Taylor Moon’ is part of a series of articles in which we asked nine artists to chose a colleague whose work has been on their mind.

Taylor Moon, The Nomad, 2019, video stills. Courtesy: the artist
Taylor Moon, The Nomad, 2019, video stills. Courtesy: the artist

I had to interview Taylor Moon. I didn’t know where to begin, so I started with what I had in my hands: a Spanish guitar that I had just purchased from a pawn shop on Cowley Road in Oxford. I ran it through the modes while Taylor listened, via Zoom, in Missouri. A former MFA student of mine at the Ruskin School of Art, Taylor is now an assistant professor of graphic design at Missouri Southern State University. She is 22 and from Los Angeles – Korean father, American mother. Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian – that’s a blues scale; Lydian, Mixolydian – I have a sister called Linda; Aeolian – these are Greek City states – Locrian. Taylor says she likes the Mixolydian. I look that up: a sophisticated, slightly bluesy major sound. That’s curious. You spent many years as a cheerleader, I say. ‘Nine years,’ she replies. That’s a long time of disciplined work. Do you feel you approach your art in the same way? ‘Pretty much. You need your core as a cheerleader – everything comes from the core, the gut. But, in the end, it’s about shining as a member of the group. It’s about trust, community.’ Yes, there is a lot of empathy in your work. Your animations are about people going through difficult episodes, the ill and the disabled also. Your latest work (The Nomad, 2019) finds parallels between the lives of an astronaut and a homeless man. ‘It could have come from my cheerleading years. It’s all about rallying. Art gives us strength.’ You’re young, yet your work seems to have a ready voice, experience coupled with concentration. I play a blues in E over a Dorian mode. It’s not bad. 

This article first appeared in frieze issue 215 with the headline ‘Artists’ Artists’.

Main image: Taylor Moon, The Nomad, 2019, video stills. Courtesy: the artist

Samson Kambalu is an artist, author and academic. He is associate professor of fine art at Ruskin School of Art and a fellow at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, UK. In 2021, he will have solo exhibitions at Culturgest, Lisbon, Portugal, and Modern Art Oxford and his work will be included in the Athens Biennale, Greece. He lives in Oxford.