Meet the Artist: Jesus Moroles

Date
  • An interview with the artist Jesús Moroles. As a college student in North Texas, Jesús Moroles tried to carve granite with a hammer and chisel. After only thirty minutes, he recalls, "The stone took me over. It was so hard it barely showed what I had done to it . . . It controlled me. I fell in love with it." He began sculpting exclusively in granite, using a diamond-edged electrical saw capable of "tearing" the stone. Moroles went on to establish one of the largest stone-carving workshops in the country, which he runs with the help of his father, brother, and sister. In 2001, Moroles began to strike his sculptures, sometimes with batons, sometimes with his hands or his feet, creating a type of music one audience member called "an unearthly composition . . . that recalled the effect of the . . . Orient" (Adlmann, Moroles, 2003). 

    JESUS MOROLES: I knew as early as the first grade that I wanted to be an artist. I remember having one man shows in elementary school and selling them all. We grow up very humble beginnings. We had to dig our own ditches to put in our bathroom in because we had an outhouse. So I learned from my father that we could do anything. We could fix our cars, dig our own ditches. I mean my first stone carving was digging that ditch.

    My tools are the same tools that I started with. I’m still trying to figure out what I can do with a chisel and hammer. As soon as you've touch stone with a chisel or anything you’ve actually killed the quartz in it, and it doesn’t reflect light anymore. So we actually tear it, just like when you tear paper it shows the fiber and that’s what we’re doing, we’re tearing it to show the inside the stone and all the facets that reflect light.

    Yeah, this is where I saw this side.

    JM: While I go to the quarry and I bring back some of the granite that somehow strikes me because of the size the shape, the texture the color of a vein in it. It may sit here for three or four years, and I’ll walked by and I’ll see something different in it and that will be the beginning step.

    A stele means monolithic stone with writing on it. The “Georgia Stele,” I brought it to the museum uncarved, and I had each one of the staff members actually carve a piece out and then from that I started creating the piece. I often like participation in my work.

    The museum has one of my earliest pieces, “Lapstrake,” and it’s the lapping of the earth. It’s like the stratus of the earth the layers and you know how they lap over so it’s stronger, and I thought it was a great name for it. But for me, when I looked at this stone there was a white vein been running through the granite, which is very unusual for granite. Granite is mainly made up of spots, and this had a white vein, so when I looked at the piece, I decided to carve everything away from that vein so that white veins stood out.

    Actually, the pieces that I tore out of “Lapstrake” became another lapstrake because they tore out so beautifully. I go from working with a solid stone and creating a piece to creating pieces from the pieces that came off of that. My feeling is that I don’t think that I’m a gifted person. I think that I’m a very hard worker and that through hard work you can do what you want. You can do anything that you want.
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