This acquisition is a surprising and welcome one for the DMA. Moreno, 33, earned his bachelor’s in fine arts from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2010 and his master’s in fine arts from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design in 2012. Due to a combination of factors, Moreno’s career has taken off in Dallas and beyond, and the evident maturity of this work belies his youth.
Moreno described the backstory of the work in a Facebook announcement this week. Most poignantly, when he was unsure about taking on the effort and emotional toll of such a large project, he wrote, “I was sitting with Erin [Cluley] and told her, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make this Chapel,’ to which she earnestly responded, ‘you’re not?.’ By saying this, she let me know that she had my back and that she believed in it.”
His note also makes clear the creative interactions of museum, gallery, school and artist that gives one hope for the future of the visual arts in our nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area.
What is fascinating about the resulting work is that it bears so few traces of the fashionable “identity politics” that are running rampant in our art schools and contemporary exhibitions. It does have many of its aesthetic roots in Mexican muralism, but these are bolstered by Moreno’s interest in religion, installation art and European and Latin American baroque mural painting rather than the more typical visual ruminations on gender, sexual orientation, race or immigration status.