Concetta Morales
  • Des Moines
  • interviewed 9-29-1998
  • mixed media, painting, mosaic murals

about the artist

Concetta came to Iowa to teach at the Des Moines Art Center and begin work as a studio artist. She holds degrees in painting and art history from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Once in Iowa, Concetta found a home in the lifestyle and has remained, participating in broadening the artistic exposure and opportunities for Iowa communities since. She has encouraged and enlightened many of all ages in her years of teaching at the DM Art Center, Iowa State University, and as a visiting artist with the Iowa Arts Council, Metro Arts Alliance, and VSA-Iowa. In addition to teaching, Concetta is a recognized mosaic muralist. Her mosaic murals address contemporary subject matter with an energetic language of color and composition. She enlists the ideas and images of multi-generation participants into the details of public murals.



artwork | audio | statement


BH&G: Poppy © Concetta Morales | All Rights Reserved

BH&G: Swirl © Concetta Morales | All Rights Reserved

The Road Leads Me © Concetta Morales | All Rights Reserved

Over & Again © Concetta Morales | All Rights Reserved

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artist statement

In my new work, the canvas is under attack. I start out with a color field, which becomes obliterated with muted hues, tones, and texture. This gives me an area upon which to investigate spatial dimensions to create a new environment. Each of the five never-before-seen works is a walk in the park where the viewer is experiencing a range of organic shapes and forms, feeling inherent in an excavation; something that has been untouched for many years, yet has a feeling of newness.


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School art

By the time I was in middle school, I was definitely one of the better artists and always going the extra mile on the projects. I'd say third grade was a turning point for what I would produce and put out, and the teachers would really look at me as, you know, the top of the class, and other children. I remember as early as third grade doing just fabulous things. And then in junior high and high school, I was in art clubs and after-school art, and I had art exhibitions. So, it was something that was always with me.

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Having children

After Blaise, who's the first-born son, was born, I felt an urge to get into the studio and create this body of work called The Fruit of Life, because having this child was just a mind-boggling experience, and I felt like my life changed on many different levels—the nurturing aspect of somebody else. So, The Fruit of Life came as a response to breast-feeding and cooking and eating differently, and thinking about survival and health and all that.

I have created I'd say probably hundreds going on thousands of pieces of artworks that you could probably find something precious in each one of them, and no creation could ever come close to my kids.

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My art

We've been talking about my life, and it has to do with all of those different facets—layering bits and pieces of my life and other people's lives, almost like a weaving. But the formal part of it is, there's always a lot of color, there's always fragments of many things happening at once. It's just nonstop, you know, give me a break, give me a rest, I can't look at it anymore, kind of thing. Most of my canvases entail acrylic, oil, wax, oilstick, collage, sometimes pieces of other paintings or prints. I've allowed myself to use a drawing tool as well as a painting tool—so, a piece of pastel or charcoal or graphite pencil along with the wet paint.

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Every time I go out to do a mural, we're talking about that little community or the little town, the cornfields, the railroad tracks, and so I've done pictures of those things so that they end up in my work or in my thinking. And that's been a really important part of my life and my work for the past ten years, traveling around to all of these different Iowa communities and recording visually what they're about. So, I've taken those visualizations and they've come into the personal work or the paintings.

When I do a mural it's pretty straightforward—this is a mural about one of these communities. But in my painting I allow it to be more abstract, stream of consciousness.

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Unpredictable art

An aspect of my work that has been ongoing for many years, is that it changes—like, you could own a painting and live with it for many years and still find it interesting because of the changing quality of it. And that's what I enjoy about life and about people, that they're unpredictable, life is unpredictable—I want my work to be unpredictable. I want there to be an element of surprise, so that whenever you look at it you'd say, "You know, I've had this painting sitting there for ten years, and I never noticed that yellow band around the leaf, and why is it there and what does it mean and what does it do?" So that there's always these little kind of surprises that unfold. I think that's the beauty of painting.

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Be prepared for the long hours that go with it, the unsteadiness in it, the peaks and valleys. It's the kind of career that requires tenacity. And I want to say, you'd have to love what you're doing in order to do it. I mean, you'd really have to be passionate about what you do in order to be successful at it. And you're always in the midst of doing it, doing it again, doing it better, doing it worse, in order to get something from it. To be successful you can't churn out one image and think that's it, this is going to be your career. But you have to be willing to be in it for the long haul, and make a lot of different images, a lot of different mistakes, use a variety of materials.

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