ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – For Larla Morales, there is little difference between the natural world around her and the art sitting on a pedestal at the Contemporary Art Center. Her work in the field brings together two worlds in an expression unique to the Grand Pays, and to her.
“I am a child of immigrants, my parents are from the Philippines and I was born in Abilene, but I always felt a kind of disconnect with the culture and the place where I grew up,” Morales said.
Raised in Clyde, she began practicing art at an early age. She searched for ways to express herself and connect with the land she so longed to be a part of. Morales found the answers she was looking for in the traditions and crafts of her artistic ancestors.
“I was trying to find innovative ways to stretch my budget as much as possible, so I would look into art history. How the masters would have done it in their time,” Morales explained.
She said she started experimenting with these ancient techniques in college, creating her own paint, pigments and tools from the earth. By using the materials available even in her own backyard, she was able to reflect more intimately the earth that formed her, through her own interpretation and the medium used to convey it.
“It’s very satisfying to be able to create art about a space and about a place and a locality with materials gleaned from that space,” Morales said.
From the limestone quarries of Luders/Avoca to the slate gray clay of Clyde, the hues and shades of Texas found their way into every piece she created. In many ways, these pieces tell the story of her home and ground her in the identity she sought.
“Growing up an intimate knowledge of the biome as a whole has really helped me find my place in this space we call the Big Country,” Morales explained.
She now shares her form of interpretation and self-expression with others through her art. Morales also teaches this practice, passing down the way artists have sourced themselves for generations and continue to this day.
“I want people to feel encouraged to look around their surroundings and realize that there’s an abundance of art supplies all around them,” Morales said.
His work is now exhibited at the Abilene Center for Contemporary Arts.