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HomeArt and other cultural eventsIsabel M. Castro: Expanding Culture and Social Issues Through Art and Photography

Isabel M. Castro: Expanding Culture and Social Issues Through Art and Photography

Art Work and photo by Isabel M. Castro

By Debbie Hall

Photos by Isabel M. Castro

Isabel M. Castro’s photography and art showcase rebellion, social issues, injustice, and celebration of culture.

Born in Mexico City and raised in Southern California, Isabel has harbored a deep love for art since her early years. Her passion for photography ignited during high school, a flame that would continue to burn brightly as she pursued her studies at the University of California Roski School of Art and Design.

“I attended from 1972 to 1976 when I graduated. The women there were probably my strongest role models. They were all very independent, free-thinking, and liberal,” she explained.

Art Work and photo by Isabel M. Castro

Her time at USC was transformative. She immersed herself in the visual arts program, honing her skills in two-dimensional art. Her education was a rich tapestry of artistic exploration, from photography to printmaking, painting, and learning different mixed-media techniques.

The art history component gave that generation a strong foundation for women to proceed with their work and voice how to use art to articulate their thoughts and feelings about what was happening. Isabel and others would produce artwork, not the kind of work people may want to hang on their living room wall, but that speaks to a larger audience.

“One has to contextualize your work in the various art movements, whether it is abstract or performance art or political art, social justice art, feminist art, or there were so many subcategories.”

Living in Las Vegas since March 2020, Isabel has continued with her art throughout the decades, along with teaching, writing, and photography. She straddles her artistic expressions to encompass political work, human justice, feminism, and the empowerment of women. She also includes cultural work highlighting her Mexican and Latin background and traditions with the aim of sharing these historical practices with the greater community.

Isabel recently received five certificates for her photography at the Consulate of Mexico in Las Vega’s first art exhibition during the closing reception of the exhibit of Mexican Cultural traditions. 

1. Certificate of special congressional commendation by United States Congresswoman Dinah Titus (D-Nev)

2. Certificate of commendation presented by United States Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev)

3. Certificate special congressional recognition presented by United States Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev)

4. Special recognition by the Mexican Council of Las Vegas, presented by Jeremiah‘s Guzman Barrera consulate. 

5. Certificate of recognition by the Las Vegas Office of the City, presented by Councilwoman Olivia Diaz, Ward 3.

Isabel was also featured in the film Radical Women Latin American Art 1960-1985 Curator Conversation, which is based on the exhibition of the same name. Cecilia Fajardo-Hill and Andrea Giunta curated the exhibition that was exhibited at the University of California, Los Angeles, Hammer Museum. Then, they traveled to The Brooklyn Museum in New York City and the Pinacoteca in Sao Paulo Museum. The film was produced by Brazilian directors Isabel De Luca and Isabel Nacimiento Silva, focusing on the artistic practices of 11 women artists working in Latin America and the United States artists of Latino heritage between 1960 and 1985. The film provides insight into this critical period in Latin American history and contemporary art development. Click here to learn more about Radical Women events and click here for more info about Radical Women.

Art Work and photo by Isabel M. Castro

Isabel’s artwork, “Celebrating a New Life,” is currently on display at the Charleston Heights Arts Center until July 12. The opening reception for the City of Las Vegas Government’s annual exhibition, “Celebrating Life,” showcased a vibrant and chaotic celebration of the artistic talents of individuals aged 50 and older. The model for Isabel’s work was all dressed up with body paint used in traditional Day of the Dead celebration events, and she was about seven months pregnant.

“People are motivated to show their creativity and talent through costume making, celebration, and being part of a cultural tradition in many of my art pieces,” said Isabel. “I have probably taken several thousand photographs and curated a core exhibition of about 50 of them. It is important to remember our ancestors and pay tribute to them. I am looking forward to curating my exhibit in Las Vegas.”

To contact Isabel, follow her on Instagram @icmcastro.

Debbie Hall
Debbie Hall
Debbie Hall is a writer, editor, content provider and broadcaster. She has called Southern Nevada home since 1978 and has been honored to attend and report on the changes in Las Vegas and surrounding areas. She continues to tell the story of Southern Nevada for generations to come.
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