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“Portals of Discovery” Creator Receives National Medal of Arts

Texas artist Jesús Moroles’ body of work includes massive arches commissioned for Texas Tech’s public art collection.

Written by Sally Logue Post

Square Spiral Arch by Jesús Moroles is a granite sculpture gateway leading to the Experimental Sciences Building.

“Square Spiral Arch” by Jesús Moroles is a granite sculpture gateway leading to the Experimental Sciences Building.

Jesús Moroles, whose sculptures are represented in Texas Tech’s Public Art collection, received the 2008 National Medal of Arts last month from President George W. Bush. The medal is the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence.

The National Medal of Arts is a White House initiative managed by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  The NEA organizes and oversees the National Medal of Arts nomination process and notifies the artists of their selection.

Texas Tech commissioned Moroles to create two massive “Portals of Discovery.” The work “Square Spiral Arch” sits near the Experimental Sciences Building. “Lapstrake” is placed between the Mass Communications Building and the Electrical Engineering Building. A similar sculpture is located across from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The Texas Tech University System’s Public Art Collection and Program has been named one of the top 10 university public art collections in the nation by Public Art Review magazine.

“We’re proud to have two pieces by Mr. Moroles at Texas Tech,” said Chancellor Kent Hance. “His sculpture is representative of the quality of the art in our collection. Public art plays a role in the university experiences of discovery and personal growth and we have worked hard to provide a wide variety of art on all of our campuses.”

Texas Tech allocates 1 percent of the estimated total cost of each new construction project and each repair and rehabilitation project that exceeds $500,000 for the acquisition of public art, along with an additional 1 percent for landscape enhancements.

Born in 1950 in Corpus Christi, Moroles has received significant national attention with his inclusion in the landmark exhibition Contemporary Hispanic Art in the United States. His largest scale single work is the Houston Police Officers Memorial, dedicated in November 1992. The memorial is comprised of a granite and earth rising stepped pyramid surrounded by four equal inverted stepped pyramids excavated from the ground.

Moroles has more than 2,000 works in place in China, Egypt, France, Italy, Japan, Switzerland and the United States, in museum, corporate, public and private collections. To date Moroles’ work has been included in more than 160 one-person exhibitions and 190 group exhibitions worldwide. He is a member of the Board of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. and recipient of the 2007 Texas Medal of the Arts Award for Visual Arts by the Texas Cultural Trust.

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