Maria A. Guzmán Capron
Through a combination of hand-sewn textiles and paints, Maria A. Guzmán Capron joins together an array of patterns and striking colors to fashion bodily forms. Merging figuration with abstraction, these works explore cultural hybridity, pride, and the competing desires to assimilate and to be seen. Born in Milan, Italy to Colombian and Peruvian parents and later relocating to Texas as a teenager, the artist recognizes the challenges of toggling between various cultures and geographies. Her multilayered textile works emphasize that we consist of several identities, some that we repress and some that we exalt.
Capron’s practice explores how clothing is used as a marker of class, gender, and cultural identity. Composed with a variety of recycled, off-cut, and store-bought fabrics, her works merge privileged textiles with those that have been rejected and discarded as excess. By contrasting common fibers like cotton with more luxurious fabrics like silk, the artist addresses material hierarchies in art and fashion to parallel the power dynamics that exist within class and gender.
In addition to serving as a metaphor for society’s inequities, her use of mainstream and mass market materials functions as a subversive gesture to challenge the homogenizing capitalist landscape. Enlisting an intentional range of materials, including fabrics readily accessible to all, the artist stages a space for difference to thrive. Drawing from immigrants’ experiences, she is invested in the friction of mistranslations—of failing to “dress the part,” or having one’s pride in self-expression overcast by exoticization or coercive assimilation.
Exaggerated body parts—signature moves in Capron’s work—render muscular arms that embrace, puffy fingers that clasp together, and slinky legs that intertwine to become one. Through eclectic fabric and subtly painted brushstrokes, these interlaced figures confront the viewer and become an invitation for vulnerability, openness, and individual expression.
Maria A. Guzmán Capron (b. 1981, Lives and works in Oakland, CA) was born in Italy to Colombian and Peruvian parents. She received her MFA from California College of the Arts in 2015 and her BFA from the University of Houston in 2004. Solo exhibitions include the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, TX; Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA; Texas State Galleries, San Marcos, TX; Premier Junior, San Francisco, CA; Roll Up Project, Oakland, CA; and Guerrero Gallery San Francisco, CA. Select group exhibitions include Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA; Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA; pt.2 Gallery, Oakland, CA; NIAD Art Center, Richmond, CA; CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions, San Francisco, CA; Buffalo Institute for Contemporary Art, Buffalo, NY; Deli Gallery in Brooklyn, NY; and Mana Contemporary in Chicago, IL. Her works have been written about in Hyperallergic, Variable West, Bomb Magazine, and Art in America. Capron is a 2022 recipient of SFMOMA’s SECA Award and her work is currently featured in the exhibition, Respira Hondo, at SFMOMA through May 2023.