Luis M. de Jesús has always had a parallel interest in visual arts and educational technology. Thus, the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, granted him a sabbatical to research the relationship between art and technology. As a product of his investigation /creation, de Jesús presented a solo exhibition titled Signos y metáforas [Signs and Metaphors] at Galería Torres Martinó at the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Architecture. As part of this sabbatical leave, he also published a paper titled Arte, tecnología y contexto [Art, Technology, and Context], which he expanded in 2017.
While de Jesús was studying for his bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, in 1973, he took visual arts courses under the tutelage of John Balossi and Luis Hernández Cruz. During the sixties, while pursuing graduate studies, he participated in several collective exhibitions in Puerto Rico and the United States.
These collective exhibitions included the Puerto Rican Athenaeum’s Christmas Contest (1976), the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture’s Nilita Vientós Gastón Contest (1977), the Conceptual Video Contest in Belgium (1977), and the series “Puerto Rican Artists” at the Fortaleza (1978). In the first two, he participated with conceptual graphic works in serigraphy, embossed text, and mirrors, titled Retrato de mujer [Portrait of a Woman] and Retrato de hombre [Portrait of a Man], and, for the third, he participated with a conceptual black-and-white video, which was the technology that was available at the time, titled Geranios [Geraniums]. During this period, he also opened Galería La Caleta in Old San Juan along with Luis Germán Cajiga. The opening of the art gallery was reviewed by local Puerto Rican newspapers, such as El Nuevo Día, “Hanging from the walls of Sala de Jesús, there are engravings and sketches by Luis Miguel, made with a meticulous technique” (Landrón, I., El Nuevo Día, Tuesday, October 25, 1977, pg. 22).
In 1979, de Jesús began his doctoral studies in Instructional Systems Design at Indiana University, Bloomington. The following three years, while completing his studies, de Jesús worked as a graphic artist at the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at Indiana University and participated in several artistic encounters, such as the Third Annual Media Arts Festival (1979) and the Films Exhibition by Indiana Filmmakers (1980). For the first, he participated with photography, and the second, with a conceptual film.
The past ten years, de Jesús has continued participating in exhibitions. In particular, his solo exhibition Emociones y grafito [Emotions and Graphite] was presented at the gallery of the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico (1991). “De Jesús’ work offers us, from a unique perspective, his particular vision of the fragments surrounding and molding his artistic setting” (El Vocero, November 12, 1991, pg. 39). Regarding the exhibit, art critic Myrna Rodríguez stated “This collection of sketches is characterized by free, yet strong, strokes, the density of the markings, and spontaneous gesture. […] The sign acquires meaning precisely because of the procedure rather than from the content itself” (Exhibition catalog, 1991). More recently, de Jesús participated in the exhibitions Signos y metáforas II [Signs and Metaphors II] (2012) at Galería Guatibiri in Río Piedras, and Signos y metáforas I [Signs and Metaphors I] (2009) at Galería Torres Martinó at the School of Architecture of the University of Puerto Rico, and Paradoxes in counterpoint [Paradojas en contrapunto ] (2016) at the Museo de las Américas, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Among his collective exhibitions, it is worth mentioning his participation at the Faculty Center of the University of Puerto Rico, which was reviewed in the San Juan Star newspaper by Manuel Álvarez Lezama. Regarding de Jesús’ art, the critic wrote “De Jesús’ drawings are powerful because he succeeds in combining rough organic elements with a certain degree of lyricism. His two best pieces are ‘Cocoloba’ and ‘Torso’” (February 2, 1995, pg. 44). In addition, he participated in the National Exhibition in Aguadilla, where he obtained an honorable mention in drawing with a gestural graphite piece titled Felino [Feline] (2000), in 11 Artistas Profesores [11 Artist-Profesors] at Galería Francisco Oller at the University of Puerto Rico (2003), and in Colectiva – Nuevas propuestas [Collective-New Proposals] at Galería Biaggi & Faure (2007).
De Jesús recognizes the value of self-instruction in his formation, in particular studying by means of extensive readings and visits to museums in the United States, Europe, and South America. However, he considers his experiences as part of a community of practice of professional artists to be even more influential in his artistic formation. These were colleagues and friends with whom he reflected on many occasions about art. Many of them participated at the same exhibitions as he, such as Julio Berríos, Sixto López (deceased), Luis Germán Cajigas, Raúl Zayas López, Myrna Rodríguez, Lope Max Díaz, Carmelo Fontánez, Ernesto Álvarez, Julio Acuña (deceased), and, most recently, Roy Kavetsky, Edwin Maurás, and Andrés Batista.
His work constitutes visual essays with multiple readings, motivated by his concern to understand the complexities of humanity in its historical context.7