Moe Brooker was a powerfully influential artist in the Philadelphia community and touched many people’s lives. He had a major impact as an educator at Moore College of Art & Design, where he became a full-time faculty member in 1995, and chaired the Foundation department from 2004–2012. He passed away in January 2022.
Read on to hear from the Moore community, in their own words, all the ways Brooker’s legacy inspired, motivated and changed them.
“Moe was one of the first people I met when I started at Moore almost 18 years ago. What stood out for me was his big smile, infectious laughter and his intense joy for art-making. His voice was like a big hug. He had a way of making everyone feel comfortable and excited all at the time. As a young professional and person of color, it was important for me to see this talented and accomplished African American man unapologetically enter a room and share his ideas and passions so freely. Like many of his students and colleagues, I learned from Moe that I could be better, ask more questions, play, dance, paint and listen, no matter who was in the room.
“His character was just like his art—colorful, vibrant, playful, alive. I look at what he created and I think: a beautiful soul lives forever.”
—Claudine Thomas, Interim Academic Dean
“Moe was an extraordinary human being who excelled at every aspect of life and all he was engaged in: artist, teacher, father, role model, advocate. I am proud and honored that he called me a friend. Words at this moment are totally inadequate to describe his passing. He is sorely missed by my family and I, to whom he was a dear friend.”
—Paul Hubbard, former professor
“I honestly don’t have the words to express the deep sadness I felt upon hearing the news of Moe’s passing. The way he taught was equally via questioning and probing you for answers about your work as it was instructional. Those open-ended questions and his famous response of ‘okay’ with a shrug were always nerve-racking. The way he stood over your shoulder humming as you worked! I also have memories of his love for hour-old cold pancakes that had been doused in syrup.
“He always made time for his students no matter how busy he was. There wasn’t a phone call of mine he didn’t return and I’m forever grateful for that. It was an honor to have been his student.”
—Morgan Lewis ’15
“I have vivid memories of Moe teaching my basic drawing class my first year at Moore. He told us that all the talent that got us here meant nothing, and only discipline and improvement would allow each of us to pass his class. Moe Brooker didn’t teach me how to draw; he taught me how to see. The world has lost a wonderful artist and fantastic professor. He will be greatly missed.”
—Krista Infante ’07
“I graduated from Moore but Moe was my critic and mentor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. I always looked forward to his insights and conversation. I love his work and often think [back] to it when I’m creating my own. I’m glad to have known him and his talents.”
—Gerrie Sammak ’84
“Moe Brooker came many years after my time at Moore College of Art & Design, but I can tell from his four-minute speech that he was a passionate powerhouse who blazed a trail and left an impact on everyone blessed enough to encounter his greatness. Moore and the entire art community suffers a loss from his passing, but we are all that much better because he existed and shared his gifts with others as teachers do.”
—Sherry West ’88
“Moe Brooker was an advocate for the power of art in Philadelphia. He brought that advocacy to Moore through his impact on a generation of artists. His passion and spirit was evident in his work and his students were the lucky beneficiaries of his guidance.”
—Gigi McGee, Professor and Program Head, Graphic Design