Born in Mexico and raised in the United States as an undocumented woman is the inspiration behind the Senior Art Exhibit of Guadalupe “Carmen” Castorena.
Castorena, a University of the Ozarks senior art major, will present her exhibit “No Me Llamo Guadalupe” from April 22-27 in the Stephens Gallery, located in the Walton Fine Arts Center. There will be a reception to meet the artist from 6-7 p.m. on Sunday, April 24 in the gallery.
“No Me Llamo Guadalupe” tells of Castorena’s exploration of identity during her life as an undocumented woman living in two worlds with different expectations.
“After years of mixed conceptions of the self, which harmed my physiological development after years of alienation, I am on my journey to finding equity within two cultures by creating healing spaces through installation work,” Castorena said.
Castorena and her family came to the U.S. when she was seven.
Senior art major Guadalupe “Carmen” Castorena will present her exhibit, “No Me Llamo Guadalupe,” as her Senior Art Exhibit from April 22-27 in the Stephens Gallery.
“Growing up, I heard stories about mojarras entering the United States for a better life, some never to return,” she said. “My early understanding of the United State was surrounded by themes of ‘money growing on trees’ and ‘women resembling Marilyn Monroe.’ These two phrases were tossed around by the males I encountered during my early years as a child and were to follow me throughout the rest of my life in the United States.”
Castorena said as a young child her mother warned her about the stigmas of being an undocumented alien in the U.S.
“She told me to keep my status hidden, and after years of isolation I began to embody the perfect American girl, slim waist, sun-kissed hair, and colored eyes, and putting my Mexican identity, dark hair and deep brown eyes, on hold,” she said. “This struggle created environmental stress during my childhood and adolescence development and what shapes the main theme in this body of work. It is through installation and performance art that these factors are addressed, revealing narrative stories of the conceptualized self.”
As an installation artist, Castorena uses space to transport viewers to a specific setting.
“For this exhibit, I have created the bedroom to exist as an occupied private space for exploration and experimentation,” she said. “Toys, furniture, and clothing are given metaphorical values that shadow the character inhabiting the room. Using form, I am able to channel the theme of self-construction through the assembly of foreign parts to create a whole. This can be seen in the pieces such as ‘…And down will fall baby, Cradle And All,’ and ‘I Kissed The Girl Behind The Magazine.’ ”
She said that symbolism is what ties the show together with the use of flowers and cacti, two things that play a very important role in Mexican culture.
“While flowers are a representation of the Virgin of Guadalupe and her beauty, a cacti is used to reflect on the phrase, ‘Nopal En La Frente’ or ‘cactus on your forehead,’ which is used to mock those who go around pretending they are not Mexican,” she said. “In the performance piece, ‘The Perfect Tommy Girl,’ I am ‘operating’ on myself while consuming cacti. The video is displayed through a vanity set adorned with pink flowers emphasizing the Mexican beauty once again.”