Back to Blog February 19, 2021

Henry Morales’s (BFA '21) New Exhibition, Funded by CARAS Grant, Explores Family and Identity

Author: Zachary Vickers

Henry Morales, a senior painting major at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, will unveil his exhibition, Aquí Chambeando!, in Tyler’s Green Hallway from February 24–March 7, 2021.

The show will feature Morales's work inspired by 19th-century French labor art to create a deeply moving series of portraits of members of his family performing their jobs as a housekeeper, janitor, construction workers and more. Through interviews with his family and close observations, Morales uses art to explore what it means to be an immigrant and a laborer in a particular time and place.

“I wanted to pursue this project because when I looked at labor art, I never understood why there was a disconnect between artist and subject,” Morales said. “Aside from depicting poor people doing laborious work and it being crazy to show those people in high art institutions, what makes artists want to paint a farmer or sower? As a first generation Guatemalan-American, labor has always been a huge part of my life, so this project allowed me to bring a connection between subject and artist by depicting the labor of my family members.”

The exhibition was developed under the supervision of Professor of Painting Odili Donald Odita—one of the requirements of Temple’s The Creative Arts, Research And Scholarship (CARAS) Program. In 2020, Morales was the recipient of one of Temple’s CARAS grants, which provides funding opportunities to encourage and support undergraduate students engaged in scholarly, creative and research projects that contribute to advancing their field of study.

Next, Morales plans to expand on this series of paintings, as well as their subjects, to include distant relatives. “I hope to continue creating works that help me understand my identity as a first generation Guatemalan-American,” he said.

Tyler undergraduate students: There’s still time to apply for a CARAS Grant! The deadline to apply for summer and fall projects is March 15. Learn more and apply here.