Although I sent this out last month, I am sending it out
again... the thoughtful questions many of you sent made this one
of the richest on-line conversation pieces!
Please continue to email your questions for Jesus Moroles... I
saw him over the holidays and he asked me to pass on to fellow
artsednet-ers how much he has enjoyed being apart of this
dialogue! Remember, you can email your questions to him
directly to me at reese.
>From December 9, 1996:
?: In what ways does culture play a part in your thinking, creating and art
Jesus: Um..culture...well, I think that it's very important. Growing up in
the poor side of town in Dallas the times that we had culture is when they
would drive us to the Music Hall and to the opera, and so the schools
introduced us earliest. I was glad that they would bring it to us--I
remember going to the Frank Lloyd Wright theatre in Turtle Creek in Dallas.
It was intimate and the actors were so close...they ran out almost into the
audience and made you feel a part of it.
ER: Did performances like these affect your own performances?
Jesus: Part of it. Although I really resented when they changed the design
of the theatre, they added a few rows and I thought that just was just
sinful. Maybe that's why I have a small amphit-theatre in Cerillos for that
feeling of one-on-one performances.
ER: And so how have these cultural experiences affected your work?
Jesus: I really think we have to experience culture; it helps us get along.
I think it's a great diffuser. It crosses all boundaries. I think it helps
integrate understanding... And when I'm working... The work sometimes looks
African, sometimes Mayan, sometimes Egyptian, but it's always after the fact.
I see it more... I relate to it after the fact and am able to see these
things entering my work because somewhere along the line I studies it and now
I bring it into my work. Like art history... Actually one of my funnest
courses in college because it introduced you to religions and societies and
you could understand their habitat and buildings in their civilization. Art
History was the most insightful course, and the hardest. A lot of times they
show you slides so you get the flavor and then on the test they'd show you
something new and you'd have to use clues to figure out what it belonged to.
So you had to research more; it was fun. I had to work twice as hard
because I felt behind.
Jesus: I started school after the service for four years so I thought I had
to work harder.
ER: Do you think that work ethic translated into how you create art now...?
Jesus: Even as artist I feel behind, like there are all of these artists at
20 (years old) and I didn't start until I was 30 so I'm always trying to
catch up and be the best. School didn't come easy either; I always felt like
I had to work harder studying--it's not natural, I really had to work. I
have a daughter that is dyslexic and I see her and think I see things in
reverse, so I think she got t from me!
?: Is it possible to have a bicultural perspective?
Jesus: Well I would hope so! I keep calling myself Mexican-American. My
father is Mexican, born in Mexico, now he just became an American
citizen--which I discouraged him because he had all of the rights except to
vote--and he could go back and own property. But he had to be and so he did.
I always liked the option of going to Mexico and owning some secluded beach.
But I've never been to that beach and so it's in my dreams.
I never liked being called Chicano. I related to some Californian term. I
was brought up half English/half Mexican. My mother was born in South
Texas--not sure which side of the border she was born on but she did finally
get an American birth certificate. I think she did very well in school and
my father went to school until the third grade until his father died and he
had to go to work. The differences of my mother being so studious and my
father being so savvy of the real world and getting along and making it
happen... That cross-cultural views very helpful--it gave me a much wider
viewpoint of both--being able to see both sides. And I'm very proud to be A
Texan which is another culture! SO being American with Mexican heritage and
actually going to Mexico every year from age 1 through 18 and seeing other
cultures maybe got me into this mode traveling and seeing and experiencing
more different cultures.
?: I was raised in El Paso, Texas and it often seemed strange to me to be in
places that were more northern and less under the influence of Mexico. How
does this aspect play into your work internationally?
Jesus: I live din El Paso and one of the things we joked about was "what is
the best thing about El Paso?" and it's Juarez which isn't in El Paso. We
enjoyed going everyday; why be so close to this unbelievable, gigantic city
and not go--for lunch and dinner. I felt more comfortable in Mexico than in
the EL Paso side. I don't know. When I go traveling to Italy they love
Mexicans over there. It was so warm. I felt very accepted. When I traveled
north in the US I feel welcome, but I think that's the art, it breaks down
barriers and walls. I think that art is the main reason that I don't feel
intimidated, it equalizes everything... Maybe to my advantage!
?: Do you ever allow people to visit your art factory?
Jesus: yes, I have and do and think I always will. It's very... I hope
people get a lot out of it... People, students, tours...
ER: We had a question earlier in the month about the fact that you refer to
your studio as an art factory; how does the factory operate?
Jesus: Well, it's called a factory because it probably operates beyond a
studio. If people were to visit my "studio" and they drove up to this
factory they'd think they were in the wrong place! In a sense that it's many
people, quite large, it operates like a factory because it's like an assembly
line of pieces in progress waiting for my next decision. Works being
produced but they're all my own. See, from ,my first monumental commission
piece I couldn't give a price and date, and they'd want to change something
and it would cost extra... Given all of these unanswered questions Id decided
I would make a factory and just do it myself and not be restricted. I would
have it come out the way I wanted it to. I decided to take control away and
ER: You mean as opposed to a foundry-like situation?
Jesus: Right. Because a lot of decisions in a foundry like situation are
made by artisans who are artists but maybe aren't making a living on their
own work. But they're mostly artists and I didn't want people making
aesthetic decisions for me. One requisite I have for people I hire is that
they aren't artists. So that was my vision.
?: Please ask Mr. Moroles about his drawings. I tell my students that I
think drawing is or should be the common link with most visual arts. Does
Mr. Moroles make preliminary, in process, or summary drawings? Is there any
way we could see his drawings on the Internet?
Jesus: I use drawings, but you can't see them because I draw on the sculpture
right on the stone and then cut it away; it'd be hard to xerox from stone.
I think it's the most basic thing artists need--back to the basics I schools,
learning to properly stretch a canvas, mix colors, we're jumping past that
and getting to the contemporary mumbo-jumbo and forgetting the basics. You
need them to grow and be solid artists.
Although drawing on stone I have sketches of a series so that I remember or
have the possibility of another idea for when I find the right stone. I
would gladly put drawings on the Internet but they're mostly on blank pages
in airline magazines... My home is an airplane and my office is an airport!
ER: So next time I fly I should look in the magazines for Moroles sketches?
Jesus: No, no... I take them with me; someday I'll do a whole show of
?: What do you imagine for (yourself) in the future?
Jesus: I was thinking about that today and wondering how I could design and
build spaces and buildings. Sculpture is like building but I don't want to
be limited. So I want to get more into that, more into architecture,
spaces, the whole entrance of a building, the whole lobby, the whole facade,
the whole park... I've been doing parks, sculpture gardens, memorials, but I
want to do more, not just the center piece but the whole piece. I've been
controlling the first thing people see when they enter a museum or garden,
but I want to control the experience all the way through. But I'll have to
prove myself first.
ER: How, or what plans do you have to prove yourself?
Jesus: Maybe Cerillos or Rockport (Texas), so that people could see I could
do other things. I always say that I'll never run out of ideas because the
stone is never the same but in a way I feel a bit too confined; it might not
be enough because I want to grow faster, bigger. I only have so much time so
I want to move faster.
ER: Do you have and plans?
Jesus: We have a master plan for Cerillos--layouts and such--but I seem to
think past that. I need to buy more land because it's nor big enough. I
need space! I have 5 acres in cerillos and 3 city blocks in Rockport, I need
more, more, more! To do the ideas I'm thinking about I want to do almost
what the de Medici's had in Florence: a place where the exchange of ideas was
promoted and the interaction of artist and community to educate.
ER: Sounds like a big plate to fill.
Jesus: Yeah, it's a big plate, and stuff is always falling off! But if you
don't dream it won't ever happen and by telling people that's how it happens.
For me, people have offered to set up foundations to help me do what I want
to do, or offered to provide legal services, because I mention it and they
believe in me or what I'm doing. And things like ArtsEdNet help spread the
?: What work do you enjoy personally? Which work do you consider your best?
Jesus: My bets work is what I'm working on at the time, the last work. And
then the next work is the best work. I have a book out and it has works from
only the first 2 years and it has pieces that were just great. So are the
1st years' works the best? I don't know. They're a series, you got through
steps to develop the perfect work. And then there's a beginning bets, a
middle best and an end best.
ER: So is it the process you enjoy?
Jesus: Yes. So to ask that I have a best from every series... Someone once
asked if I had a problem parting with work. If I thought that I'd never sell
anything. If I picked out the best I'd never show anything because to show
something and not sell it is teasing. Or a commission, I don't want to tell
them what their like are, but to give them a ballpark of ideas, and then from
those ideas I could tell what's best for the space and the number of options.
I know that I have popular, prominent pieces, like in new York across from
the Modern (Museum of Art)--that's a very visible piece and I would consider
it one of the best, but there will be more best, and were plenty of best
Elizabeth B. Reese (reese)