Using both fabric and paint, Maria Guzman Capron merges figuration with abstraction in her multilayered textile works. Capron creates soft sculptures of abstracted bodily forms made from textiles and paint. She collages them to form multi-layered, exuberant, colorful figures. For her, softness is used as a way to bring an awareness to the body. She plays with shape, dimension, and color. “My work is all about color.”
Capron was born in Italy to Colombian and Peruvian parents. When she was 14, her parents moved from Milan to Bogota and two years later relocated to the United States. She received a B.F.A. in painting at the University of Houston where she also experimented with textiles. In 2015, she graduated with an M.F.A. from California College of the Arts. She has been living in the California Bay Area for the last ten years. “My work centers around creating a sense of belonging. It’s a process of making a home for myself.”
She works with secondhand clothes and fabrics, that she found in thrift stores, and incorporates recycled textiles into her work with an emphasis on color and texture. The vivid palette and patterns in her artwork mirror the way that she and her family dress. The exuberance of color is familiar and comforting to her. Beyond their bright colors, her works “embody emotions, desires, and my relationship to the world.”
Capron’s work often shows representations of figures in pairs or in multiples in scenes of conflict or reconciliation. Her characters appear to be mirrors of one another, a reflection of her own experience of multiculturalism’s dualities. Collaged, sewn, and quilted together, she finishes each piece with a mixture of acrylic and latex paint.
She combines a variety of fabrics – such as everyday patterned cotton – with more luxurious fabrics like silk in female figures that address hierarchies within class and gender. Her figures are stuffed with batting that allows for exaggerated body parts. Puffy fingers and hands protrude from works such as “Enamorada” and “Me Contuve,” both made in 2022. A year earlier her “Mar” measured over 20 feet long and unfolded like a giant rag doll across the exhibition floor at Texas State Galleries. Its massive scale transformed the work’s silhouette into a landscape.
Capron is the 2022 recipient of SFMOMA’s SECA Award and has an exhibition at SFMOMA through May, 2023. She has had exhibitions at Houston’s Blaffer Art Museum, San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum, Buffalo Institute for Contemporary Art, California’s Berkeley Art Center, and London’s Public Gallery. Her work is in the permanent collection of San Francisco’s de Young Museum and will be featured in a forthcoming group exhibition at Boston University.