Artist Statement

The concept of a “home”, what Gaston Bachelard calls the “hermit’s hut” of our imagination, evokes memories of warmth and shelter, a cheerful domestic space from which to “condense and defend intimacy.”  A “house”, on the other hand, composed of drywall, plywood, carpet and laminate floors, is an empty, utilitarian space, a mundane geometric object.  The spaces of our domestic interiors, our one bedroom apartments and single story bungalows, can be wombs of protection, but also indifferent vaults of anxiety and uncanny horror.  I’m fascinated by the contrast between the rational and irrational, how an object can contain multiple meanings, distorted or switched by the lens of personal experience. Through our daily interactions, the spaces and objects of our mundane surroundings become unfixed, subject to constant renewal through their presence in our emotional landscape.

My work explores the state of emotional and sentimental attachment to domestic and public architectural interiors, and how these unstable, dehumanizing, and temporary artificial environments can grow roots in our personal history.  As a painter, I’m interested in the aesthetic possibilities of watercolor, and allow paint to drip and stain sheets of paper in large fields of bright monochromatic color that recalls printed material and photography.  Memory plays an important role, and I use memory to process photographic source material, creating dream spaces where details are subtracted, exaggerated, repeated, and spliced together.  Like memories, these spaces can’t be experienced directly, but only sensed through emotion.  Thus I combine references to photography, graphic design, and modern architecture with strategic use of color, texture, and pattern to create a suggestion of real space.


Juan Miguel Cabrera is an artist, born in Colombia, living and working in San Diego, California. He holds a BFA in painting and drawing from the San Francisco Art Institute, and is earning an MFA in painting and printmaking at the School of Art and Design at San Diego State University.  His work has been included in several group shows and has been selected for several awards, including the Society of Illustrators Scholarship in Memory of Joyce Roberts Kitchell, the SDSU Art Council Scholarship, and the SDPractice initiative through the city of San Diego.

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