By Theresa Kuhlmann
Alejandro "Alex" Moreno's pursuit of art was pretty much carved in stone before he came to Knox. A member of the Class of 1993, Moreno studied art in high school, winning the Laguna Beach (California) High School Pageant of the Masters Scholarship in sculpture, as well a $3,000 scholarship in creative writing. "I knew I wanted to write and sculpt," he reflects.
Running is his other passion. "I thought running was a major part of my life and art a smaller part," he says. But his desire to run was slowly replaced with his desire to make art. "Henry Joe, Knox's professor of art in ceramic sculpture, challenged me to find the same depth of passion I had for running in my artwork," he remembers.
Moreno was born in Nogales, Mexico, and raised there until he was 10 years old. He knew poverty first-hand and recognized American opportunity once his family moved to the United States. He did not want to waste a moment of his college experience and spent most of his time in the sculpture studio. He won Knox's Al Young Art Exhibition -- an annual juried art exhibition that awards prizes in drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, ceramics, and sculpture -- each of his four years at Knox.
Today, Moreno owns his own business, Moreno Tile & Stone. He lives in a 120-year-old house just north of Galesburg, with his wife, Deborah Granat Moreno '89, and their five children, who range in age from four to 17. The 3,000-square-foot shop for his business sits between his home and the lake behind it. "A section of my shop is devoted to pottery and sculpting, complete with pottery tools and a kiln," he says. "I teach my children how to throw pots and sculpt."
His home is also an artistic expression. Moreno and his wife recently built a 3,000-square-foot timberframe addition with attention to both natural aesthetics and environmentally friendly living. The home has been featured in two newspapers in the last six months.
Moreno's business encompasses both commercial and residential jobs. His commercial work includes hotel designs in Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, and Illinois, and much of his residential work involves custom granite and tile. "I do a lot of mosaic work. My imagination is my only limitation," he says.
He first started the tile and stone business out of necessity. "As soon I graduated from Knox, I had a family. That was the impetus to start my business," he says. "But, I have never forgotten that I am an artist. I have never forgotten my true desire."