While Juan Hurtado Salazar enjoys being a student at the Tyler School of Art, he said there are “so many other pressures” that get in the way of him focusing on the projects he cares about, like paying for his tuition and renewing his DACA status.
But the junior ceramics major still finds time to dedicate himself to projects like “David El Primero,” a 12-foot styrofoam statue representing his nephew, a first-generation American citizen who is the child of a Colombian mother and a Nigerian father.
“My nephew has certain privileges that the rest of the household doesn’t because he is a U.S. citizen, but at the same time much of my household doesn’t have to contend with the racism and histories that someone who is Black has had to deal with,” said Salazar, who was born in Colombia. “I wanted to make a monument to first-generation youth and their resilience.”
Salazar was awarded the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship from Yale University to attend a residency in Norfolk, Connecticut from May to June. The fellowship will cover tuition and room and board for each student accepted.
“[The residency] is a six-week intensive that basically allows me time to devote myself to my practice,” Salazar said. “You have six weeks to really hone in on what you make and why you make it.”
Tyler offered to pay the residency’s $1,500 registration fee, but Salazar also needs at least $500 to pay for art supplies. To raise this money, Salazar established a fundraising campaign on YouCaring, a crowdfunding website, which will remain open until the end of May.
As of Monday, Salazar raised $950 of his $2,500 goal.
After purchasing supplies, the remaining money Salazar raises will go toward his Temple tuition payments for the semester and the $495 he needs to renew his protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, an executive order by former President Barack Obama that protects immigrant children who came to the United States without documentation. It allows them to renew their legal status every two years to avoid deportation and to receive work permits.
President Donald Trump rescinded DACA in September 2017 and gave Congress until March to find a solution. This effort was unsuccessful, but two federal court orders in January and February allowed DACA recipients to apply for two-year renewals of their permits again.
Salazar first came to the U.S. when he was 4 years old. He said his parents fled their home country of Colombia to escape violence so their children could have a safe upbringing and receive a good education.
Salazar has already started the paperwork to renew his protection under DACA before its expiration in September.
In addition to having to pay the application fee for DACA renewal, Salazar’s undocumented status precludes him from receiving federal financial aid that would ease the weight of college tuition.
“I can’t take out loans cause you need a cosigner,” Salazar said. “My parents don’t have credit ’cause they’re also immigrants.”
Instead, Salazar has to fund his education through merit scholarships and a job in the restaurant industry. But despite the anxiety of paying tuition and renewing his DACA status, Salazar said he tries to keep a calm mind.
“[Life] becomes sort of juggling a lot of things at once,” he said. “I handle it by maintaining a calm composure and just methodically handling one thing after another.”
Salazar’s level-headedness in the midst of his financial and personal struggles is apparent to others, especially his ceramics professor, Roberto Lugo.
“I think Juan sees himself in the midst of a battle and his armory is filled with hope and empathy,” Lugo said. “I believe that [he] will make a significant impact in our society, and it is an honor to be able to teach him.”
Salazar is excited to focus on his craft during the residency instead of being distracted by the stress of paying his tuition and DACA renewal fee.
“I’m excited to be surrounded by a community of other artists who are there to help each other reach a new level of making and reasoning for why we make it,” Salazar said. “It’s an ideal space.”