Objects for the Temple of Longing
“What if art can display it all?”

By utilizing materials such as steel, leather, lace, and silicone, mixed-media artist Gabriella Moreno investigates the concept of erotic desire and how it interacts with the body. As a queer latine, Moreno is inspired by her interest and participation in the S/M (sadomasochism) community and performances of queer bodies, especially in her obsession with two “dommes,” one of which, Mistress Nancy, was a lesbian who worked with one gay male “dom” and one gay male “sub.” Moreno explores notions of gender and power dynamics that culminate in the manifestation of both pleasure and pain. She not only questions whether an artwork can contain such facets but she strives to make them do so.

All of this can be seen in her current work, Playline for Four, in which she has created an approximately four-foot-tall sculptural metal hook comprised of four barbs, forming four 90-degree angles. The pieces seem simultaneously abstract and organic. Their composition was achieved by Moreno arranging professional dominatrix magazines so as to create “collages” without cutting, tearing or gluing. The arrangements were held in place simply by the magazines’ own weight or Moreno’s finger as she photographed them. She then made contour drawings of the images, the linework from those drawings subsequently guiding the cutting of steel. The final metal forms are conglomerations of bodies engaging in S/M, but bodies transformed through time and space.

Line is a strong aspect of Moreno’s art in that she views it as a translation of desire—for example, in the line that is formed when an arm is reaching out, yearning for something or someone to touch. Moreno believes that she touches every aspect of the work and views the process as a form of poetry, punctuating it with details such as a fingerprint, or the hard stop of a paintbrush. Standing before her work, its exploration of the world of desire and the body comes to the fore—and, she hopes, touches us, its viewers, in turn.

- Anthony Del Aversano

Artist Statement
Can a line be an analog for the ache of desire? Objects for the Temple of Longing is a body of work that contemplates themes of longing, devotion, and power.  The work focuses on the emission of desire--how it imbues into what we crave. Through its ache, we recognize our sense of self uncoupled from our desire.  We feel a lack lengthen. We fix our gaze on our want. Looking melts into longing.

The work in this series weaves together the artist's lived experience, references to art history, fantasies, archival research, and queer, kink, and feminist epistemologies. This series is meant to be a meditation on desire in its making, and serve as a site of contemplation for its viewers.


Gabriella Moreno is a queer, latine artist from Brooklyn, NY, whose practice uses the erotic as a lens to explore gender roles and the negotiations of power that occur at both personal and cultural levels. She has exhibited in New York, Glasgow and Rome. Recent exhibitions include a solo, How the Threads of my Animal Unravel to You, at Underscore in Milwaukee, WI, and In Absentia at the NY Studio School Project Space in Brooklyn, NY.

Moreno has a BFA in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of Visual Arts, where she was awarded the Silas H. Rhodes Scholarship, and is currently an MFA candidate and Graduate Fellow at The Ohio State University.