I also use a lot of the methods of drawing that I learned while drafting. For example, when I studied Interior Architecture and Design, we were taught to roll the pencil as we draw to make an absolutely perfect line and to make sure each line has a perfect start and end to it. Sometimes you also have to go over the start and end points of a line just a bit to achieve that solid look of the line. These subtle details makes the work look complete.
Jaeger: The crowns are constructed from a combination of architectural, geometric, and seemingly ecological imagery. How did you come to incorporate this third element?
Cabrera: I lived in my art studio at the edge of Wynwood, Miami for a long time. The space was a converted-concrete, derelict warehouse in a pretty bad neighborhood. When I finally moved out to a small cottage with a yard, I began gardening and experienced nature in a new light. The way that a bird builds its nest, the caterpillars on their way to transformation, and the monarch butterflies that visited the garden relate to the special cycle of life that exists all around us. We are all in a process of transformation because that’s how nature works.
My experiences with the natural world inspired a new series, Monarch, that not only relates to the transformation of the individual but also to empowerment. I incorporated my studies of historical women with the elements represented in nature such as the cocoon, chrysalis, nest, etc.
Jaeger: How might your experience drawing this series perhaps influence your work in architecture?
Cabrera: My experience in drawing Monarch has led me to explore the forms in nature that can exist as architectural structures. I feel that when we embrace the nature that exists around us, we create a harmonious relationship with it.
Enclosing structures actually creates a barrier to the environment. When I designed a house in Nicaragua, my priority was to open the house up to its surroundings. I created an interior courtyard open to the sky, allowed for wind to pass through the house, and also designed an interior garden that could be viewed from many angles within the home.
Jaeger: You also have made a foray into public art, with some quite dynamic aura works. How did this come about? In particular, the mural depicting one of these actual portraits?
Cabrera: The end goal for me has always been to express my message to as many women and people as possible. Public art is a beautiful way to expose art to many people who aren’t accustomed to going to a gallery or a museum. I remember once a whole school bus of children passed by while I was working. All of the children were screaming and shouting about how beautiful it was. A family passing by even asked about the mural. It’s essential for artists to take part in exposing art to those who cannot access it because the opportunities afforded through exposure can change the whole course of a person’s life.
Jaeger: You write, “I want women to question their own identity so the headdress art is abstract, showing that every woman wears a crown.” Could you talk more about why your choice to make the headdress art abstract causes women to question their identity?
Cabrera: If I were to depict a purely realistic crown or headdress then the viewer would only associate the crowns with those who have worn them in the past. However, if I allow the abstract forms to shine through, the viewer can use their imagination and begin to create their own associations with crowns.
I hope the viewer will imagine themselves wearing the crown and that this process will lead them to ask themselves where they come from, who they are, what brought them here, how they view themselves, where are they going, can they one day make their own crown? Once we’ve been empowered by the idea that each of us wears a royal crown or majestic headdress, the barriers of our existence cease to exist. We can accomplish anything we put our love and work into.