HOME: Paula Rivera Calderón

COOP Gallery is pleased to present HOME by Paula Rivera Calderón. Part traditional
exhibition of meticulous illustrations and part playful experiments with accessible and found materials, Home invites you into Calderón’s inner sanctum. Paula’s paintings offer a slice of both her home life and inner life, with imagery arranged in vaguely sequential vignettes reminiscent of her home in the Puerto Rican diaspora of Philadelphia. Layered throughout is the repetitive reimagining of natural elements that have morphed into Paula’s iconography: dogs and butterflies, suns and moons, plants and rivers, a child’s outstretched hands. Calderón’s mark-making is bold, with contrasting graphic black outlines and blocks of bright color, yet she approaches her subject matter with gentleness.
While her paintings offer suggestions of a narrative, they were made as visceral outpourings from the artist’s reflections on the feeling of home and the comfort she wishes to cultivate.

While her family is her main inspiration for her work, she is also interested in contemplating
nourishment and rest and their connection to vitality. Her combination of hyper-focused and off-focus imagery creates a sense of movement and awareness that our narratives are always happening inside a larger scene. The viewer leaves her work feeling as privileged as being invited into her actual home.

More about the Artist
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Paula Rivera Calderón (b. 1991) is a visual artist and single parent who works with a combination of traditional (ink, gouache) and accessible (cardboard, found objects) materials inspired by their desire for comfort and home. As a child, Paula lived with her family on a school campus in a deeply religious household, which resulted in their feeling disconnected from their neighborhood and peers. Her social anxiety and loneliness were counteracted by cultivating a complex inner world with acts of constant drawing.

She studied at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with a painting concentration, and at La Escuela de Artes Plasticas studying animation. While they attempted to finish their BFA, they left school after becoming pregnant with their son. Their more recent pivot to collage, working with cardboard, paper mache, and murals, stems from their intention to make more approachable, inspiring, and interactive work meant for anyone, but particularly her son and his peers. Their work has previously been exhibited at Chapterhouse Gallery and the James Oliver Gallery in Philadelphia. This is their first solo exhibition. Learn more about Paula at paulariveracalderon.com