"I've always believed my art to be directly related to the history and traditions of my Guatemala."
Seven years ago, we met painter Carolina Cabrera from Guatemala and immediately fell in love with her work. She is especially skilled at capturing emotion on the human face, which made us feel like we knew her subjects intimately. They are our sisters, uncles, friends, etc. even though we've never physically shook their hand or given them a hug. This is a rare talent and one that we are excited to feature on Novica's website. Over the years, she's also become our friend.
Recently we heard about a tough time her family is going through. Her husband recently had a stroke. If you've ever had a family member who's been through this, you know how life altering it is. He has to relearn how to do even the most basic tasks (walking, eating, talking) via intensive physical therapy. Our friend, Carolina, has been there right by his side, patiently driving him to and from medical appointments for months now. As a result, she has been unable to paint, which is her main source of income.
She still has some paintings in stock though, if you are in the market for fine art. She has discounted them in order to help pay her husband's medical bills, which are piling up. For this reason, we are honored to highlight her in this special Giving Tuesday email. We hope her story might strike a cord in a someone looking for that special piece of art. Please consider Carolina!
"I'm Carolina Cabrera Dubón, born in August of 1963 in the capital to a middle class family like many others in Guatemala. My childhood mixed both happiness and instability, as my parents' relationship was a difficult one and they separated on many occasions. So at times, my four brothers and I lived with our maternal grandmother. This made me a very timid little girl and I found it hard to relate to others.
"Because of this, and our economic problems, I wasn't able to develop my artistic skills as a child. Even so, I was always very interested in painting as a way to express my feelings. I was always drawing and painting. I even dreamed of becoming an artist one day.
"When I was 14, in art class they asked us to do some pen and ink drawings on the theme of 'Antigua.' I worked very hard on my drawings, and realized I had talent when the teacher asked me where I'd had them printed. I was amazed! I never expected my teacher to react in that way. They were my first works of art. But one day I lent them to a friend and she never returned them.
"My parents pressured me to study something they considered more practical, so I became a secretary. I wasn't happy, but it was what I was able to study. After graduating, I went to work full time and eventually I was able to pay for a diploma course in art at the university. After that, I began to take classes from a renowned Guatemalan artist who taught me the technique of oil on canvas.
"After three years, I still sought new horizons, and I began studying with Humberto Coronado, a master painter. He taught me new techniques apart from oils – he taught me to work in pastels, acrylic and other media that awakened my creativity even more.
"I believe much of my art is the result of being constant with my studies and focusing all my efforts on learning the best from each teacher I've had. In addition, improving my technique has been a constant challenge throughout my life, and it is a desire that is always latent within me.
"I've always believed my art to be directly related to the history and traditions of my Guatemala. Not only for the colors and customs I try to reflect in my paintings, but also my portraits of our people and their emotions.
"Over the years, it hasn't been easy. It's been a personal challenge for people to recognize my form of artistic expression. However, today several prestigious Guatemalan institutions have sponsored exhibits of my work. This has been a long and difficult road, but one filled with satisfaction. What comes to mind is when I won first place in a contest in the Asociación Dante Alighieri in 2006. Another lovely moment was at the beginning of 2010, when a relative took some of my paintings to the U.S. After much work and perseverance, he was able to organize an exhibit of my work in Chicago.
It is the textures that distinguish Carolina Cabrera's paintings, achieved by mixing marble dust with gum and water. For the background, she uses a Japanese paper for its fineness and resistance to the passing of time. She would like all of us to become acquainted with the universality of the human face.
When Carolina first joined Novica she confided that "My greatest dream is to become recognized as an artist. Now that my two children are older, I hope to study for an advanced degree in art in a foreign country." In 2016, Carolina proudly shared with us that "My dream came true! I have now held three exhibitions in Rome, Italy. And here in Guatemala I've had over 50 exhibitions!"