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2018 New Mexico Women to Watch Winner

Paula Castillo

I am a contemporary sculptor who creates discrete and conceptually rigorous objects both in and of themselves and meshed into larger tentative environments. I am known for my penchant for creating form by hand welding thousands of tiny pieces of metal bi-product together. My preference is for industrial materials scavenged from regional fabricators and scrap yards to simultaneously ‘show and tell’ a piece of the suffocating dislocation of matter. My work annexes minimalist forms and schemes and reinscribes them with a quietly schizophrenic division between the hyper organized desire to dissolve into the world (using permeable webs capable of catching detritus and treasures alike) and the need to buttress margins (using antagonistic and unfriendly obstacles and traps). I like to mimic the manic intensity with which we structure our world/ the human agency to arrange and work nature/culture and always wait for that aspect that tirelessly escapes the transformation into workability. I especially like to perform fantasies of natural objects and relations to expose not only our real strangeness but also to imagine the immense complexity involved for any entity. Ultimately the final goal for all of my artwork really is to expose our real, dense and buried attachments to the ‘other’.

Born in 1961 in a small town along the Río Grande in New Mexico, Paula Castillo’s work recombines personal and familiar elements in unusual ways. The man-made microcosms combined with the expansive natural environment are the catalyst for her critical exploration of the systems and spaces we inhabit; places our own lives depend on.

A Native New Mexican, Castillo attended Yale University for two years after high school and then dropped out to work in an electronics factory where she began to forge her early career in contemporary sculpture. She holds a BS from UNM, an MAE with Distinction Honors for her focus on working with diverse populations from the College of Santa Fe and an MFA in 3D studio and Contemporary Theory from the University of New Mexico.

Her art follows the examples of other contemporary artists in undermining the concept of the artist’s obligation to maintain a single cohesive style. Castillo is an acclaimed contemporary artist who has produced a range of work from avant garde anonymous interventions to large scale public work. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally and has been awarded numerous significant public art commissions including the metal artwork for the New Mexico History Museum in downtown Santa Fe and a large scale public sculpture in Korea for UNESCO. Castillo shows her work regionally at the William Siegal Gallery in Santa Fe. She and her husband live in the small village of Córdova.

To learn more about Paula, visit her website.