Installation View. What The Water Gave Me. Collaboration between Salinas and Castillo.

The following are excerpts from an email Interview from Xica Nation(XN) with artist Sarah Castillo(SC) of Lady Base Gallery in San Antonio, TX.

XN: Tell us a little about your art practice?

SC: I’ve been an artists since I was kid. I like working with different materials, but recently focusing on fabric, photography, and painting. I enjoy working with fabrics and I collect different pieces of fabric for their patterns, buttons, and collars.  I also like working in photography when I create installation pieces as a way to depict different stories of mine. I’m making my way back to painting again, setting aside time for that on the second part of this year.

XN: What is Lady Base?

SC: Lady Base Gallery first started off as a small gallery at the legendary Gallista Gallery owned and curated by Joe Lopez, a famous Chicano art painter. This was a supportive space that started out as my studio, but I wanted to share the space with other artists too and from that opportunity Lady Base Gallery blossomed. For the first couple of years, Lady Base was stationed at Gallista and after the building went up for sale, I relocated and it turned into a mobile gallery that showed in various artists run spaces to the most recently -city-run spaces. It’s been an overwhelming journey that has so, so many stories, lessons, gifts, art, friends, family, resistance, and hustle.

Sarah Castillo. What The Water Gave Me. 2018
Sarah Castillo. What The Water Gave Me. 2018

XN: What are your latest shows/projects?

SC: I just recently presented in a duo show with Veronica Anne Salinas titled What The Water Gave Me. Vero is from San Antonio, Texas, but is currently based in Houston, Tx. She is a sound artist and poet and together we worked on creating artwork to share our intimate experiences with water through our different senses. It was the best experience to be curious and experiment alongside another artist like her. We worked a lot along the river and in the outdoors, it was a very nourishing process.

XN: What are “Chicana Feelings?”

SC:  Chicana Feelings is the title of my recent solo show. Its the visual art component to my thesis: Art as an Embodied Practice. Artistic Expression, Conocimiento, and Identity Formation and was a multimedia installation of paintings, prose, photography, embroidery, video, and fiber. It will be an ongoing autoethnographic project that works to represent a Chicana experience in San Antonio, Texas by aiming to articulate a self-reflexive artistic conversation to actualize a tactile reality of Mestiza Consciousness.

It’s my response to what has been rejected and embraced and it is the process of resolving conflict and loss in the context of mental health. I am guided by questions framed to understand the ways that art, identity, and healing expand our notions about relationships to Self, and the sociocultural world. How do artists enact agency to understand the conditions of themselves? How does oppression operate against the body? And how does this translate through art?

This exhibition involves  interdisciplinary research, prose, and visual art to articulate my graduate thesis which works toward understanding intersectional identity. By exploring these relationships, this exhibition makes meaning of survival ​with ​self-portraiture, paintings, video, and installation as it engages dialogue between anonymity and preservation. ​I’d like to also say that Chicana Feelings was exhibited at the Guadalupe Cultural Art Center alongside Arlene Mejorado and Adriana Monsalve and their exhibition  Entre Orillas. Both of our projects were supported in part by the National Association of Latino Arts – NALAC Fund for the Arts grant.

XN: Why should every Xicana and LatinX know about Gloria Anzalúda and  El Mundo Zurdo?

SC: El Mundo Zurdo is a conference spearheaded by the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzalúda that brings together scholars, artists, educators, human rights activist, sociologist, writers, cultural workers, students, and musicians to share projects, initiatives, and pedagogy that encapsulate the theories of Anzalúda, the Queer Chicana Poet Artista Maestra Activista Scholar Estrella. The conference brings together a peer-reviewed selection of presenters that reflect ways that Anzalúda continues to impact and contribute to queer, Chicana, and feminist theories and activism today. Best of all, Anzalúda was raised in the present-day borderlands of Mexico and Texas; the Rio Grande Valle; so even more of a reason to know this conference.

El Mundo Zurdo conference committee (SSGA) hosts an art show that happens concurrently with the conference and this year it was titled – Shadow Beast, Creating Sin Verguenza. The co-curation team behind this art show is Rebel Mariposa, Jess Gonzales, and Eliza M. Perez. Together, they produced the visual art component to the conference which is a beautiful evening of cultura and arte that happened at Galeria E.V.A in San Antonio, TX Galeria E.V.A is run by Veronica Castillo, NEA recipient and third generation clay artist from Mexico. The exhibition presents a peer-reviewed selection of artists from all over the country and the artists represented work in the context of identity as a person of color, through the lens of gender, lived experiences, borderland practices, Chicana feminisms, and Latinidad among various mediums such as embroidery, painting, photography, and print. Shadow Beast is an Anzaldúan theory for our fear, our dark side, our shame and the wealth of power and liberation that is represents.

XM:Do you have any upcoming shows?

SC: I recently presented at Kolaj Fest in New Orleans with another artist, Baleigh Kujar. Our presentation was titled -Embodiment in Collage: Mind, Body and Remembering Trauma of Past Generations. It was a amazing to speak alongside Baleigh about how we’ve used our art as agency for overcoming and understanding unhealthy circumstances in our lives.

My next project will be a presentation at the Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) conference in El Paso in August. I’ll be presenting alongside my colegas and professora about  Artistic Expressions and Its Nuances in Chicana Lives. I’m very excited to be in the company of so many fierce women. This will also be my last project for the year.

Other than these amazing opportunities, I have made a conscious decision to stop committing to projects for the rest of the year. I am looking forward to reevaluating my life goals. During that time, I hope to invest in writing, researching, and painting more. I also need the space to spend more time with my family and make more time for my friends and chosen family. Life is fragile and uncertain. These past 8 years have flown by and have left me feeling the need to work on cultivating stronger bonds with all the folks that have been by my side through it all and to reflect on all the amazing opportunities I’ve been blessed with.