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Senior creates plaster piano sculpture to honor father

Sara Moralez senior exhibition

Senior exhibition project by Sara Moralez ’21 (New Studio Practice: Fine Arts)

For Sara Moralez ’21 (New Studio Practice: Fine Arts), the Senior Exhibition wasn’t just a culmination of their studies at MIAD, but also a way to pay tribute to the sacrifices their father made.

“I learned self-expression from my dad. He gave me the opportunity and was supportive of me as a non-binary person and as an artist,” Sara said. “I wanted to honor the stories and memories, and how those have informed my identity.”

Sara created a full-size plaster piano sculpture embedded with objects to honor the memories of life’s milestone moments and activated with an audio/video recording showing Sara learning how to play a song on a real piano.

“I wanted it [the recording] to mirror the sacrifice my father made. The recording isn’t perfect, but it’s a symbol of still repaying him for his sacrifice,” Sara said.

The plaster piano sculpture was inspired in part by a red upright piano that was left by previous owners in the first house Sara’s dad bought and also from the sentimental objects displayed on altars throughout their home. MIAD Professor Judith Harway donated the piano that Sara used to create the plaster mold. 

“Embedded in the sculpture are objects I lost overtime. They are formative objects from milestone moments. Some may be clouded by pain, but it’s what made me, me,” Sara said.

Sara chose plaster because the material is strong, but also fragile. Sara moved the sculpture from MIAD’s Sculpture Lab to the Frederick Layton Gallery carefully for displaying it at the on-campus Senior Exhibition earlier this spring. The piano top alone weighed 300 pounds.

Now that Sara has graduated from MIAD, Sara plans to pursue an MFA degree and a career as an educator or in a therapeutic setting for BIPOC people. 

“I owe my success to the teachers who were supportive of me,” said Sara, who attended Milwaukee’s Rufus King High School.

Sara’s work is now on view in the virtual MIAD Senior Exhibition at seniorexhibition.miad.edu. The MIAD Senior Exhibition is generously sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.

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