Cuban-American Artist Strives for Cultural Connection

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Napoles Design -- Defining the borders of cultural commonalities through magical realism.

Veronica Napoles’s art can best be described as an intimate look at issues wrought by a first generation immigrant and the resulting diaspora in its visual culture. “Beyond Borders,” her latest series, will be on display at Art Brokers Gallery, 425 Irwin Street, in San Rafael from May 3rd until May 11th, 2014. The oil painting mixed media series depicts a seated woman with detailed backgrounds. Evoking “magical realism,” each painting draws upon its own existential visual narrative.

“My visual vocabulary has centered on the exploration of being a first generation Cuban-American. My paintings are visual existential imaginations born out of memory and history” she says with her hands flying around emphatically. “Beyond Borders” is a body of work that attempts to find a balance between her personal history and universal themes of abandonment, redemption, suffering and love. As a Cuban-American her parents' generation experienced American life in general, but with trepidation and anxiety. All of their angst about leaving their lives and family behind filtered down into their everyday lives and permeated her childhood. “Neither fish nor fowl, and a stranger in two worlds, I was lumped into a rather large and very different Hispanic immigrant category when I moved to California from Miami in 1976,” she says.

Latinos are predisposed to thinking about the world within a context of dreams and imagery. “I think art, no matter the form or content, is autobiographical. As Federico Fellini said: "All art is autobiographical, the pearl is the oyster's autobiography." Veronica states. What Veronica does with her hands is always the result of something that started in her mind. One of her close friends has said that she has ADHD hands, always moving, always producing creatively. With that said, her work has a strong personal element, which always acts as a filter for interpersonal universal experiences, and aides her deep curiosity to understand the world. “My art serves as an emotional bridge between my past and the future. The images stream from my unconscious to pacify my present” says Veronica.

After graduating from the University of California with a degree in architecture and a long career as a designer, she returned to her first love -- painting. A long-time resident of Marin County, Veronica has never forgotten her Cuban roots. Most members of her family -- mother, father and only sibling were born on the now culturally isolated island. Her DNA is as diverse as the existing Cuban demographic -- Iberian, Greco and Finnish -- the later probably accounting for her over six foot tall frame.

“Most of my relatives moved to the United States from Cuba, leaving behind family and their life style to start fresh in their new home only ninety miles away. They landed at the Miami airport with one suitcase each, no photographs or jewelry allowed, and began their assimilation into a new culture and language” she says with a sad smile. Spanish was Veronicas’ first language, and she still remembers feeling somewhat like a Martian when she attended American schools where only English was spoken. At the age of 10, she received a gift that would change her life -- a starter painting kit. She didn’t know then, that the contents of that box, would become a means to express the turmoil and confusion she was experiencing and would influence the rest of her life.

Her life in in the Bay Area has enriched her work exposing her to various cultures and reinforcing the commonalities that exist within them all. Her current work appeals to the conscience of everyman and although autobiographical in nature, it connects with all people, especially those who have experienced a cultural diaspora. “Nothing is better than sharing a few smiles or a look of understanding with someone who identifies with your work -- no matter what culture they come from.” says Veronica.

Contact: Veronica Napoles,, vnapoles(at)comcast(dot)net

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Veronica Napoles
Napoles Design
+1 (415) 847-4480
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Veronica Napoles