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Back to Blog June 22, 2023

Henry Morales (BFA '21) on Personal Trajectories and Finding Purpose Through Art

Author: Emily Herbein

Henry Morales (BFA '21), Tyler's Program Coordinator for Academic Enrichment, feels right at home working for his alma mater -- having the opportunity to assist students in collaborating with the arts in their community, something that he feels passionate about. He also recently curated an exhibition at Haverford College, centered on a multigenerational Latinx experience. Morales credits his personal and professional growth to his time pursuing his undergraduate degree at Tyler, which is what he hopes to encourage within the events he organizes for students. Read more about his career trajectory and advice for students still trying to find their footing.

Talk about your time at Tyler — you're a very recent grad and now you work here. How did that happen? 

My time at Tyler was different from that of most students who attend the university. I transferred to Tyler from a community college in Las Vegas at the age of 24. To say the transition from my West Coast life to this new environment on the East Coast was challenging would be an understatement, especially considering that I commuted and was much older than the general population at the school. However, I soon started to feel more at ease at Tyler as I immersed myself in making art. I began connecting with fellow students and faculty, which gave me a deeper sense of purpose to continue exploring and learning about the world of art. I take great pride in being a Tyler alum, and that is precisely why when the position of program coordinator for academic enrichment became available, I knew I should apply. I wanted to give back to the school that provided me with the opportunity to grow as an artist and become the person I am today. 

What are the specifics of your role, and how do they intersect with your arts practice?

My role as program coordinator is to support undergraduate and graduate students' creative and scholarly work through curricular and co-curricular programming designed to enhance excellence and foster interdisciplinary exchange across Tyler's broad range of disciplines and programs. Some of the ways I achieve this are by organizing field trips, coordinating special events for students, assisting in student exhibitions both on-site and off-site, and serving as the coordinator and primary point of contact for all Tyler student organizations and living-learning communities. This position intersects with my own personal artistic practice by providing me with the opportunity to connect and collaborate with individuals, helping them with their creative endeavors and sharing the stories they want to tell. In doing so, I aim to build a sense of community and support. 

You just curated an exhibition in Haverford — can you tell me more about that? Do you have plans for more exhibitions elsewhere? 

The show I curated in the spring at Haverford College (in suburban Philadelphia) was titled At Rest, from March 16-April 14. The show brought together the works of six multigenerational Latinx artists to examine the importance of rest and recharging as a means of challenging societal norms and reflecting on the personal histories of the artists. Whether by themselves, with a partner, with their families, with friends, or with their broader communities, artists Estelle Maisonett, Henry Morales, Chloe Luisa Piñero, and the collective Comedor Azul showed the various ways in which they choose to rest and recharge, whether physically, mentally, or spiritually. The show invited viewers to reflect on their own experiences and how they prioritize their well-being. The exhibition encouraged exploring collective rest and recharging as a way to challenge societal norms that stigmatize rest within marginalized communities. Currently, I do not have any plans for further exhibitions elsewhere, but I would love to have the opportunity to curate another show in the near future, including expanding this latest exhibition by including many more Latinx artists from across the country. 

What do you enjoy about curation? What do you hope people take away from the shows you put together? 

What I enjoy about curation is the ability to bring together various artists/makers who may work with different subject matter and materials and find a way to connect their work that tells a narrative indicative of the world we see today. If there is anything I want people to take away from my own artistic practice and the shows I curate, it is to be mindful and open to the countless stories out there in the world. Everyone deserves to be seen and heard in an honest and authentic way, and if I can do just that, then I've done my job as an artist. 

What advice do you have for other recent college graduates hoping to break into their desired field in the way that it seems you have? 

My advice would be to be patient, honest, and open to whatever life may have to offer. Never compare your chapters of life to those around you because all you are doing is limiting the potential you have. I went to school at the age of 20, and it took me seven years to graduate. During those years, I worked odd jobs such as being a janitor, furniture mover, cashier, cook, and delivery driver, all to pay off my tuition. It was a challenging journey, and I still owe a lot of money, but the path I chose has ultimately led me to where I am today. It's important to remember that everyone's journey is unique, and it's the lessons and experiences along the way that shape us into who we become. So, stay determined and keep pushing forward, knowing that your efforts will lead to fulfilling outcomes in the future.