GOSHEN — During one of Lauren Morales’ first dates with her fiancé, her windshield wiper stopped working. He got out of the car and tried to fix it.
“But he couldn’t,” Morales said in a stage whisper as she smiled down at the black-and-white photograph she snapped of him prying the wiper from the frozen snow on the windshield. The little photo hangs inside her art studio in downtown Goshen.
She stood up to put the photo back on the wall, then pointed to another.
“And here’s my dog when we first got him. And here’s Floralie when she’s a little bebe,” she said, gesturing toward a snapshot of her daughter.
Morales has a habit of making art out of her life. Seemingly inconsequential moments are caught on her little Holga’s 120-mm film, many of them frozen in double weaving together two or three disconnected moments. In one, a self-portrait is juxtaposed with a snapshot of Floralie playing outside.
But the collection of simultaneously artistic and ordinary photographs is not what put Morales on the proverbial map of artists in Goshen.
Neither are the posters on the wall for “Shade Shepherd” or “Sandcastles,” the two films for which she did production design.
It is the handcrafted jewelry, delicate strands of 14k gold holding moonstones or wooden earrings adorned with feathers, that serves as the primary art medium in her Flophouse studio.
“(In 2008) I felt in love with working with metals and making jewelry,” she said.
But she took a long break from her art after college, and only picked it up again last year.
“Life happens, and you get really busy,” she explained. She and her boyfriend moved to Texas, then back to Goshen when they realized that they wanted to raise a family in a smaller, artistic community. They got engaged. Floralie was born.
And something happened when she looked at her daughter. Morales knew that she needed to pick up her art again, to show Floralie that it’s possible to dream something and make it happen.
“Being a mom is so demanding, but I still wanted to keep part of myself. … I just wanted to be like — Your mom still does these really cool things,” she said.
In March, she invested in a studio space in Flophouse, a way to force herself to create more. She named the studio Moonflower, a homage to her young muse, Floralie Luna.
“Getting the space here really motivated. Like, now we’re paying for rent, we’re paying for the space. Let’s start doing things,” she said.
Those “things” include film design, teaching art at Goshen Middle School and launching her own jewelry line. Her motivation when designing adornments is simple: create quality, minimalist pieces that she would wear herself.
“I’m drawn to it, and I just like the simplicity. It’s something that will go with anything. It’s versatile. You can wear it on a date night or every day,” she said, adding that she creates pieces from 14k gold and sterling silver, so that the jewelry will last a long time.
Morales is also drawn to incorporating raw moonstones into her jewelry. Not only does it reflect her reason for pursuing these passions — Floralie — but she also believes in the soothing power of the stones.
Moonstones are healing for women, she said, adding that they exude a calming energy.
This calm permeates Morales’ creative life as she seems to seamlessly transition from one art form to another. She spends her summers working on film, her days teaching art, her evenings making art of her life and her free time designing adornments for other women.
“That’s how I am, in general, in life. I’m always doing multiple things at once,” she said. “One of my main things (with students) is: Shoot for what you want to do. My dream is to be a production designer and work in films, and I did that. You can do whatever you want to do. And within that thing, you can do so much.”
Morales has made it her mission to show both her daughter and their students that they can dream.
“I feel like some people think that teaching is just settling. But I don’t think so. I get inspired by them too,” she said.
INTERESTED IN MOONFLOWER STUDIO?
For more information, visit facebook.com/moonflowerstudio3.