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Photographer DSTO Moore gives local living legends their flowers through art

<p>“The Macon Music Project” features 23 local musicians photographed by DSTO Moore. Photo by Ivy Marie Clarke. </p>

“The Macon Music Project” features 23 local musicians photographed by DSTO Moore. Photo by Ivy Marie Clarke.

DSTO Moore is a photographer native to Pleasant Hill, and his current exhibition in Mercer’s Frances Sewell-Plunkett Gallery is just one aspect of the way he lives his life: bringing positivity to the city he grew up in through his camera lens. 

Before he was a photographer, Moore worked for Coca-Cola. Then, a few years ago, Moore picked up a camera, and he was hooked. He left the soda company, taught himself photography and pursued his love for art full-time. Ever since, he’s given motivational speeches, shown his work at galleries across Georgia and completed several projects, all with storytelling at the center. 

That’s what these photographs are, really — stories. Though they are stationary portraits, each one communicates something unique about its subject. 

The exhibition as a whole is titled “The Macon Music Project,” and each photograph is named after its subject. All the subjects, in turn, are local musicians, spanning across genre, class, gender and race, including classical musician Kelley Dixson. 

“I think this project is important because it's bringing together people of different backgrounds with the universal language that is music, and music is one of the most important things we as humans get to celebrate together without there being differences. It helps us find the humanity in others instead of seeing the differences and just seeing what's wrong," Dixson said in a 2019 interview with 13WMAZ about Moore’s project. 

At the time of that interview, Moore had photographed 11 people. The Plunkett Gallery exhibition features 23 musicians — and Moore has no intention of finishing the project any time soon. 

“The depth of Macon’s music history is undisputed. The different parts of town and people represented here showcases the breadth of this living legacy, too,” Moore’s artist statement reads. 

The one element connecting every photo is the large brown speaker. The subject chooses how they interact with the speaker, and the viewer interprets the photograph from there. 

Are they actively playing an instrument, or posing for the camera? Do they look into the camera, or away? Do they sit or stand on the speaker? How much of the composition do their bodies take up? What does all this say about the type of musician they are? The type of person? 

That’s another piece of the project, Moore said: he photographs artists not just as a symbolic form of encouragement, but also a means to physical support from viewers. 

“Through this project, DSTO hopes to give these legends their flowers while they’re still here to smell,” the artist statement reads. 

Separated from the main gallery wall are two special photographs: Kenneth “Bubu” Robinson and Young “Buddy” Barron, both musicians who died in the last two years, before they could be given their flowers. 

Another question emerges for the viewer: Are you inspired to listen to these musicians and support local artists while they’re still living?

“The Macon Music Project” will be on display in the Plunkett Gallery until March 4. When you stop by to appreciate Moore’s artwork, plug in your headphones, and lend these local musicians your ear. 

Ivy Marie Clarke

Ivy Marie Clarke ‘22 is an English literature and creative writing double major, double minoring in art and women’s and gender studies. She has served as editor of the Arts & Culture section of The Cluster for the last two years. She also interns with Macon Magazine and Mercer University Press and edits for The Dulcimer. She also enjoys drinking coffee and writing poetry. 


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