MacArthur Fellows Program

Walter F. Morris Jr.

Cultural Preservationist | Class of August 1983

Cultural Preservationist
Mexico City, Mexico
31 at time of award
Area of Focus
Culture and Society
Published August 1, 1983

About Walter's Work

Walter Morris Jr. works with Maya weavers to preserve their traditions and assists artisan organizations in Southern Mexico in developing ecological products that sustain and promote the Maya rain forest.


Morris lived for fifteen years in Chiapas, Mexico, conducting research on Modern and Classic Maya costume and textile-design symbolism.  He organized Sna Jolobil, a Maya weavers’ society dedicated to reviving traditional designs and techniques.  From 1990 to 1995, Morris traveled throughout Latin America studying artisan-development programs.  He is the author of A Catalogue of the Textiles and Folk Art of Chiapas, Mexico (1978), A Millennium of Weaving in Chiapas (1985), Living Maya (1987), and Handmade Money: Latin American Artisans in the Marketplace (1996).

Morris has returned to Chiapas, where he served previously as executive director of Na’Bolom, a cultural institution in San Cristóbal de las Casas, and is currently associated with Xanvil, an organization devoted to preserving and supporting Mayan culture, textiles, pottery, and other crafts.  He has also worked with the Aid to Artisans organization, the Asociación Mexicana de Arte y Cultura Popular, Cultural Survival, ProNatura Chiapas, and the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Morris attended Marquette University and Columbia University/Columbia College.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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