On Designing Jason Moran
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The Gradient

On Designing Jason Moran

The Walker Art Center worked with 12:01—Office of Hassan Rahim to create the identity and catalogue for Jason Moran’s 2018 solo exhibition, which opened at the Walker in 2018 and this year tours to the Wexner Center for the Arts (opening June 1) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (opening September 20). This is the first in-depth publication to investigate the practice of pianist, composer and visual artist Jason Moran, whose work bridges the fields of visual arts and performing arts. As a “torchbearer for jazz,” Moran challenges traditional forms of musical composition; his experimental works merge object and sound, underscoring the theatricality of both mediums. Moran—who often collaborates with prominent visual artists such Joan Jonas, Stan Douglas, Lorna Simpson and Glenn Ligon—pushes beyond the conventions of sculpture and the concert stage while continuing to embrace the essential tenets of jazz and improvisation.

This volume, published in conjunction with the Walker Art Center’s 2018 exhibition, considers the artist’s practice and his collaborative works as interdisciplinary investigations that further the fields of experimental jazz and visual art. It features essays by curators, artists, musicians and art historians, plus an interview and photo essay by Moran. These are supplemented by sections documenting the creation of Moran’s mixed-media “set sculptures” including STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1, STAGED: Three Deuces (both 2015) and STAGED: Slugs (2018). This is an essential volume for anyone interested in the intersection of contemporary art and music.

Here’s what it looks like:


Rahim’s initial concept revolved around the idea of gig posters for fictional jazz concerts. This resulted in a treatment of the book’s chapter headers that utilized an aggressive typographic language.





Rahim worked closely with Moran to create a section of the catalogue that was a visual remix of Jason’s world. The section, entitled “The Universe,” featured everything from original photographs by the artist to plane ticket receipts, music scores, monitor shots, and lots of tape. Here are some early sketches from Rahim:






Ryan Gerald Nelson worked with Rahim to translate his system into all the related exhibition collateral, including invitations, gallery guides, exhibition signage, ads, and marketing brochures.



We also teamed up with Moran to digitally publish his first self-produced jazz magazine, called LOOP. Walker digital designer Jas Stefanski worked with the artist to bridge the worlds of the LOOP print edition (released in 2016) and Rahim’s graphic identity, to create a digital home for Moran’s publishing, now and in the future. Walker media producer Andy Underwood-Bultmann also captured Moran on film, talking about why he needs to publish about jazz. Walker managing editor Paul Schmelzer oversaw the entire operation. Read and watch it here.



As part of the Walker’s engagement with Jason Moran, the Walker’s Performing Arts department presented the premiere of the artist’s work, The Last Jazz Fest, a collaboration with Ryan Trecartin, Lizzie Fitch, and Ashland Mines. Here are some photos shot by Walker photographer Bobby Rogers:


The exhibition was curated by Adrienne Edwards with Danielle Jackson. Below are some photos of the exhibition and the opening-night performance:

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