Bulldog of the Month: Terresa Moses
Terresa Moses is a motivated artist who draws inspiration from her passion for social change in hopes to inspire generations with her work. Moses is a professor of graphic design in UMD’s Department of Art and Design.
Moses decided to combine her passion for social justice with her passion for art. She is on the board of the Duluth NAACP, Clayton Jackson McGee Memorial, and the AIGA Minnesota chapter. Moses hopes to get more young people involved in local programs and movements.
“I’m an artist,” Moses said “I’m a designer and often wonder what I can do as a designer, creator and artist that will help push a lot of these movements and things I’m passionate about forward. It was just a natural click to use my talents to help.”
Moses was born in Panama City, Panama and grew up as an “army brat” traveling with her family around the world.
Moses graduated with her BFA in Fashion Design with a minor in African-American Studies from the University of North Texas (UNT) in 2008. She also completed her MFA in Design Research with a minor in Anthropology from UNT in 2015.
Moses has created numerous projects combining her passions for art and equity.
“I’m creative director at a design studio that I co-founded called Blackbird Revolt,” Moses said. “We do design, art and creativity based around social justice and progressing things forward in our community.”
According to Moses, Blackbird Revolt is a major project that works with nonprofit organizations in the area.
“[Blackbird Revolt] does a lot of branding and campaigns,” Moses said. “We’ll work anywhere from print to digital. We’ll work with a lot of organizations focused on social justice with initiatives to help positively change the negative things for folks of color, LGBT folks, sexual violence and all those things.”
Her own identity helped inspire her to get involved in this kind of work.
“All the injustices that I experienced and that I see definitely inspired me to get into that work,” Moses said. “[Blackbird Revolt] was inspired specifically to create Blackbird revolt because there's nothing like it that exists.”
Moses stated that Blackbird Revolt wanted to be a socially conscious business.
“We were inspired to do something for movements based on our own talents and what we bring to the table,” Moses said. “We try to tell people that whatever powers you may have or influences you may have in your circles or your talents, you can use that for social justice and make our world a better place.”
According to Moses, Blackbird Revolt tries to live by those values in their business.
Another project Moses had a creative play in conceiving includes Project Naptural (nappy+natural).
“Project Naptural was birthed out of my own naptural hair journey, me not being comfortable with my naptural hair and me not knowing how to take care of my hair,” Moses said. “I interviewed around 200 women and figured out that my story was not just one story but a whole community of women.”
According to the website, Project Naptural is an initiative for awareness, connection and the overall empowerment of black women with naptural hair.
After the research, Moses started her exhibitions. According to Moses, there are around 188 different hair textures in this community. Moses wanted to make sure that she captured all styles so women looking at her pieces could see themselves in them.
Moses first came to Duluth in the summer of 2016 after receiving her position at UMD.
“I ended up applying to a lot of positions after graduation,” Moses said. “I was thinking about the freedom of not only inspiring students, but the freedom to be involved in social justice and the community.”
According to Moses, UMD’s teaching position allowed her to do this.
“I go into the classroom understanding that I’m probably going to be the only black professor you have in the school of fine arts,” Moses said.
Moses stated that it is very rewarding being able to step into the role and framing a classroom in a way she wants to.
Moses said she enjoys Duluth, but there is some room for improvement.
“I've made some really great connections with people here,” Moses said. “That's what makes it worth staying, but there are some very blatant issues for me, issues like racism, inequity and injustices that I think are happening here.”
According to Moses, there is a lot of passive aggressiveness in the city and there is still a lot of work to be done.
Moses stated that social change, and leadership roles in it, all starts with personal growth.
“Any of those assessments that come through like strengths, true colors, whatever it takes to find out more about yourself, do those,” Moses said. “Not only is it going to help you hone your talents, but it also helps you understand where you are and where you are at in the spectrum of privilege.”
According to Moses, when you start to know who you are, you understand the privileges you do and don’t have.
Moses believes everyone has a unique opportunity to use what they can for good.
“That's what I try to live my life by,” Moses said. “If I can do it, and I have the ability to do it and it’s going to help bring justice and equity to people, I’m going to do that.”
According to Moses, we as humans have to get out of the mindset of only thinking about ourselves and our own personal situations, to see how we are impacting our community.
“Whatever talents you have, whatever resources you have, see what you can do,” Moses said. “Don’t just sit back at complain about it.”