• Manuel Hernandez

Interview with Marco Morales



What inspires you?


I would say what inspires me is my spirit, that thing is always guiding me places you know? Secondly Frank ocean is somebody who insanely inspires me to take my time with things allowing it to take its full form before “putting it out”. Basquiat did a lot for me always present for me and I always connected with him when coming into the art world. Growing up my parents were not like go draw or paint. They were like go be a lawyer you know go be a doctor it was never the arts. When I learned that he was Puerto Rican and Haitian that was the first time I saw myself reflected in the art world period. There was this documentary called the radiant child on YouTube, it did a lot for me as a young artist. Specially in my early days when I started creating a lot of the leather material and pocket work, I would have that on reply. I loved watching Basquiat be, how he answered questions, spontaneous, and he was very authentic. Tyler the creator’s music inspired me when it came out Bastard, Yonkers had a lot of rebellious energy that I had.


Growing up in a very patriarchal, Machista household I had a lot of pent-up energy that I didn’t know how to name or do with. Tyler’s music and his songs were hella reckless and it did a lot of for me. That mixed with Basquiat, Penny and Frank. Penny Sisto was like for me someone who loved me into being. You know those people when you meet them who you walk away more seen in the world, more heard, felt. I met her in a teepee in Floyds knobs, she had a teepee session with a group of women in the woods. My ma was like vamos and so we went. The question in the teepee was prayer and fabric and the hat that I was wearing the teal one with the fish. I talked about when I stitch and when I get creative it is prayer after that penny I connected. She was like you got to come to my studio and do some work. She brought me and she was like “here Marcos, I’ll do it and you stitch it together” after that I could not stop creating after that.


My parents are mad geniuses they got real PHD’s, they don’t through the institutions they are real doctors. They raised 4 humans here in Louisville, Kentucky all while missing home all while being immigrants no social, they tore themselves apart. Just how creative they were we never went hungry, I never always had what I wanted but always had what I needed. There was a lot of creativity that went into raising us here my dad was like “Amos a empezar hacer guisos haz tus frijoles y tus quesadillas and were going to go sell them”. They started 3 business one being la raza but it didn’t go well. They sold merchandise from Chicago because there was no Hispanic section at Kroger or the stores that exist now. My dad saw that there was a need he went up to Chicago and brought it back and that put us through catholic private school. I'm out here living single and I got to budget myself how did they raise 4 kids? Mad geniuses, my parents they fundamentally do make me feel innovative and creative.



What connections do you have with your imagery?

Early on my art was mad abstract I was really working intuitively. I have only been working consciously for the past 5 years and when I say that I mean actually wanting to say stuff. Upfront like product de tandas, like pueblo, like can’t ban the snowman. Up until then it’s just been dolls on hats or teepees trying to communicate the energy flowing between people. The teepees being people and the leather strips being energy. I would for sure say since I was creatively birthed through the teepee. The hands I use were intuitive but I got some understanding later. Penny told me I died in my past life in India as a woman who got burned along with her husband. It’s called Sati it was a practice when a woman’s husband died, they burned them with him and to remember them they used hands. I saw those hands that I had been using for about four years prior but I didn’t know what it meant. Early on it was really intuitive but now it’s coming out of it. These days I coming to say things with my art, I am really into symbols. Like pueblo, if you don’t know Spanish and you speak Chinese you are going to be like what’s this? Symbols are universals, you sit with it and it tells you things. Pueblo means town, city, or community and the tear drops signified when I grew up, I looked up to the Cholos and the gangster, they are sacred to me. It’s like me paying homage to the warriors, kings and queens.



How do you stay motivated to keep making art?

I always had a need to creatively authentically express. There is honestly not one thing that motivates me, I use to work more mechanically. Now I’m like oh this is a sweet piece, where I use to sit for days to finish a specific piece. These days I’m not so much in a rush I’m not worried about producing no one cares about when things are done. All of my art is an expression of my life, the tear drops. There is this piece that is of my cousin who passed away due to getting shot and his birthday is on the 21st of this month so I have been working on a piece for him. That one ive been working on since very early January. The pieces that I create uplift and honor life experience. As a person that’s how I do my life justice I am not rush to finish my work and when they get done, they live together. Frank Ocean taught me through the way he makes to work on a piece and get it well done because once it’s out its like that forever.


What materials do you use and how do you incorporate them into your work?


I get the glowing 3M tape from eBay I’m sure the dude who sells it freaks out every time because I order so much. I just wanted my stuff to reflect before that I was going to the thrift store and buying safety vests and I would cut the vests. Other materials like the leather strips I got from hobby lobby but the fabric is all thrifted. The one piece I actually went to a fabric store was the chess board one. The doll heads came from thrift stores as well but then they ran out so I had to start buying them from eBay. I don’t think ill ever continue doing the baby hats they hurt my fingers but I still have a lot of them.


How important is your space to your creative process?


Space is very important to me that it is clean because it reflects your craft. It’s like an extension of how its created and birthed and your mindset. My peak time is at 9 in the morning to about 3. That is why sometimes I say fuck work and just do art. When I sit to get creative, I play some R&B in the background or something groovy. I have always had albums in the background like there are specific pieces where I can tell you what I was listening to. Albums like The Heist, Good Kid M.A.A.D City, or Sam Smith. The space has to be groovy though with the rare occasions where I need silence. I really like cross stitching because I can do it out in the park or just on the side of the road. I really like the streets that’s one thing that is a part of me I live my best life outside. Anything that I can get up and do is nice. When it rains and I’m making that is the best. I am usually in a good space when I create so I don’t like to do art when I am really sad. When that happens im on the couch not caring about anything. In the future I would like to create with a collective of people. Im tired of creating alone all my stuff has been done in solitude but now im ready be in a space creatively where its more than just me.