Esteban Cabeza de Baca

Backbone of the Universe, 2019

Esteban Cabeza de Baca (American, born 1985), Backbone of the Universe, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 in. Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School, 2019.7.

Esteban Cabeza de Baca grew up in San Ysidro, California, on the border between the United States and Mexico. Cabeza de Baca—whose ancestry is Spanish, Mexican, Apache, and Zuni—describes his paintings and process: “Last time I was in New Mexico the idea of working in abstract circular planes came to me. The landscape is so vast there and thinking about my ancestors in the earth was inspiring. I was mesmerized by the expansiveness of the sky and wanted to connect with it in painting. Abstraction is my way to expand the grandeur and experience of nature. Sometimes painting in plein air and repeating what I see does an injustice to nature. The one way to unleash the spirit inside the red earth is to work emotionally. What does the earth feel like to touch? What does the smell of fresh icy mountain breeze taste like? Painting is my gateway to connect with nature on a deeper level.”