Listen to the artist:

John Joseph Contreras Romero describes their art as: Writing about my work my first instinct is to talk about my experiences as a Veteran of the Afghanistan war; a first-generation college student, a son of immigrants but what I am really most interested in addressing within my work are ideas of access, violence, power and the breaking out of one’s place or position.

How can spatial artwork talk on behalf of or engage with or address populations that are seen as outside of the norm? What makes an artwork legible and to whom? I’m interested in talking across boundaries, accessing populations that don’t get heard, talking on behalf of and with people who are not in the so-called “mainstream.”

Romero is troubled by the failure to talk about real issues, close up wants to bring the conversations around to reality, to talk about experiences of homelessness (something the artist had experienced), gun violence, domestic violence, and military might. Romero wants to further my explorations into the role art can play, express complex conversations and move beyond personal battles. Romero hopes to enrich creative investigations in trauma, memory, loss through the exploration of sculpting. Romero’s enthusiasm and drive to produce artwork comes directly from the artists personal experiences and moved beyond them into larger conversations of access.

When thinking about the importance of being a Spatial Artist, Romero thinks about the ideas and motivation that people had when they built the Statue of Liberty, The Golden Gate Bridge, and even the Olympic Black Power Statue at San José State University. The immediacy these beautiful marvels had given people with the ideas of freedom, hope, connection, and injustice is an everlasting virtue of our society. Spatial Art in society brings us wonderment and gives us the ability to see how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go in this ever-changing landscape.

To learn more about John Joseph Contreras Romero’s work please visit their website and Instagram

Visit the exhibition catalogue

Kevin B. Chen

With more than $1.5 billion in assets, the San Francisco Foundation is one of the largest community foundations in the country. The foundation is committed to expanding opportunity and ensuring a more equitable future for all in the Bay Area. Together with its donors, the foundation distributed $154 million to nonprofit organizations last fiscal year. The San Francisco Foundation serves Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties.

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