For an artist who says she has trouble expressing her feelings, Lady Base Gallery owner Sarah Castillo isn’t convincing anyone. She’s experimented with photography, textiles and written word, among other mediums, and is consistently finding new ways to share her experiences and culture. In her upcoming show “Chicana Feelings,” a visual component to her thesis “Art as an Embodied Practice: Artistic Expression, Conocimiento, and Identity Formation,” Castillo allows us to step into her world of reclamation, survival and self-making identity.
With a diverse body of work that includes paintings, video, photography, mixed media, textiles and a zine, “Chicana Feelings” is Castillo’s way of crossing the bridges of intersectionality that have brought pain and trauma to her life. A reflection of the last 10 years, during which she’s faced abuse, issues of addiction and mental health, “Chicana Feelings” is Castillo’s continually evolving story of growth and self-healing.
As a 2016 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) grant recipient, Castillo has seized the opportunity to explore social spaces, themes of identity and the notion of not belonging. Teaming up with fellow NALAC grant recipients Arlene Mejorado and Adriana Monsalve, who will present a photography exhibition entitled “Entre Orillas,” the three artists will converge at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center as the culmination of their yearlong grant.
Drawing on parallel stories of the borderlands through documentation, photography and text, Mejorado captures the narratives of Tijuana and Southern California in “Entre Orillas,” while her mentor, Monsalve, follows the people and culture of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. They meet in the middle with similar themes tied to femme identity and migration, touching on violence, survival, joy, and sexuality, and broaden the conversation about subjects that are “too often shown in one dimension.”
“I believe when we open up and share our stories, we become mirrors of each other,” Mejorado says. “We feel seen, we feel understood, and that can be medicine.” For some people, she adds, “visibility can be healing.”
At the heart of both “Chicana Feelings” and “Entre Orillas” are auto-ethnographic studies. The artists have diagnosed the trauma of growing up as the “other,” self-medicated with art and regenerated identities through self-representation — ultimately forming complementary, multidisciplinary exhibitions.
Set to run through January 19, “Chicana Feelings” and “Entre Orillas” will open with a reception at 6 p.m. Friday, December 8, featuring Chulita Vinyl Club and the debut of Femme Frontera, a book version of Mejorado’s and Monsalve’s works, published by Homie House Press. A free artist talk with moderators Dr. Josie Mendez-Negrete and Kristel Orta-Puente will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 10 at Galería Guadalupe.
Opening reception 6pm Fri, Dec. 8, Artist Talk 2pm Sun, Dec. 10, On View 9am-5pm Mon-Fri through Jan. 26, Galeria Guadalupe, 723 S. Brazos St., (210) 271-3151, guadalupeculturalarts.org.