In October 2023, artist Arely Morales traveled from her home in Texas to Guanajuato, Mexico, to attend the Festival Internacional Cervantino as a representative of U.S. Embassy Mexico. Festival Cervantino is the largest cultural festival in Latin America celebrating art, heritage, and sports, and this year the United States was a guest of honor. The exchange was also part of the Embassy’s celebrations of the bicentennial of the two nations’ bilateral relationship.
Morales arrived on the first day of the festival to visit the opening of the Ben Franklin House, the site of the U.S. Embassy at the Festival Cervantino. The house hosted a variety of events over the two weeks of the festival with a focus on STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. The Ben Franklin House also included a virtual tour of the Art in Embassies exhibition in the residence of U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar, A Powerful Past, A Shared Future. Her presence offered visitors a unique perspective of the exhibition and spoke to her personal experience as a participant in Art in Embassies’ cultural diplomacy. “Doing so sparked interest in visitors to learn more about the significance of this exhibition and the online tour experience. I was able to have meaningful conversations with visitors about the exhibition,” Morales said.
The following day, Morales lead a workshop at the Casa de Cultura, a sixteenth century building originally used as a convent. Her drawing workshop taught twelve young participants the foundations of sketching a self-portrait. Together they examined artists who historically depicted self-portraits and the potential in them to communicate emotions and ideas. “Through the figure drawing workshop I taught, I worked with participants one-on-one and shared knowledge about the technique, power of art, and self-expression.” Morales said. “I am confident that participants left the workshop with new insights.”