Isabel Castro (artist)

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Isabel Castro
Born1954 (age 64–65)
Mexico City
Alma materUSC Roski School of Fine Arts
USC Rossier School of Education
Notable work
Women Under Fire

Isabel Castro, also known as Isabel Castro-Melendez, is a Mexican American artist born in 1954 in Mexico City.[1] She was raised and still resides in Los Angeles, California. Aside from being an artist, Isabel Castro's extensive career includes curatorial work, education, journalism and photography.


Isabel Castro attended Belmont High School. In 1976, she received a bachelor's degree of Fine Arts at USC Roski School of Fine Arts. She also did research at USC Rossier School of Education in 1998 and received her master's degree in Arts Journalism (USC) in 2015.


Isabel Castro's “Women Under Fire” series (1980) is mixed media, scratched and dyed slides printed on Xerox. The pictures are underdeveloped and the scratched pigments element is strategically placed over the women's' faces and bodies to represent the systemic violence imposed on Mexican American women. At the time, forced sterilization was occurring at USC Medical Center in Los Angeles and at an East Los Angeles hospital in the 1970s. The gun targets on the images were strategically placed on each woman to make their bodies targets of stereotypes. The women that posed for the photographs in the “Women Under Fire” Series were not survivors of forced sterilization themselves but had family or friends that had been forcibly sterilized.[2]

Another artwork by Isabel Castro is "X Rated Bondage" (1980). The artwork includes six gelatin silver prints.The images depicted are rephotographed images from pornography magazines that illustrate the sexual exploitation of Mexican America women. This exploitation relates to Mexican American women choosing sex work due to systematic racism limiting their career opportunities.[2]

Other artwork by Isabel Castro includes "Corpus Christi, from Méchicano 1977 Calendario" created in 1976 and is screen print on paper.[3]



Isabel Castro's curatorial career began in the late 1990s. Some of her curatorial activities include co-curating “Corridos Sin Fronteras: A New World Ballad Tradition”, which was an exhibition at the Fowler Museum at UCLA in June 1998. This exhibition was presented again in 2002 with support from the Chicano Studies Research Center, Smithsonian Latino Center and Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services.[2] The "Corridos Sin Fronteras" exhibition represents the history and celebrates the diversity of Mexican American ballads (corridos).[4] Around the same time, she assisted with the Arhoolie Foundation’s Strachwitz Frontera Collection project at the Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) at UCLA. The Frontera Collection was sponsored by Los Tigres Del Norte fund at UCLA and is the largest digitized collection of Spanish music recorded in the U.S from 1905-1955.[5]


Isabel Castro has served as an executive board member of the Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts and Education. She has also worked on "Teach and Learn" by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. Castro has also contributed to the websites of Newseum and "Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project".[5]


Isabel Castro's journalism master's thesis project was the archival "Echoes of the Mexican Voice" website, as part of the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism's Specialized Journalism program. The project stemmed from the Mexican Voice Collection that documents Mexican American youth culture from 1930 to the 1940s. Parts of the collection are housed in various university libraries, including Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA.[5]

Castro worked on "The Ruben Salazar Timeline" at USC Annenberg School of Journalism, which is an archival webpage on Ruben Salazar, a Latino journalist. She has also been involved with the Johnny Cash Project .[5]

Select Exhibitions[edit]


  1. ^ "Isabel Castro | Radical Women digital archive". Hammer Museum. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  2. ^ a b c d Radical women : Latin American art, 1960-1985. Fajardo-Hill, Cecilia,, Giunta, Andrea,, Alonso, Rodrigo,, Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center,, Brooklyn Museum,, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (Project). Los Angeles. ISBN 9783791356808. OCLC 982089637.CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ "Corpus Christi, from Méchicano 1977 Calendario". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  4. ^ Marquez, Letisia. "Exhibit Celebrating 'Corridos sin Fronteras: A New World Ballad Tradition' Opens at San Jose's Mexican Cultural Heritage Plaza". UCLA Newsroom. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  5. ^ a b c d "Echoes of the Mexican Voice: Bringing History Into the Digital Age (a Multi-Media Website Based on a Historical Collection) - ProQuest". Retrieved 2019-03-11.

External links[edit]

  1. "Mujeres Radicales y Feminismo"
  2. "Chicano Art Inside/Outside the Master’s House: Cultural Politics and the CARA Exhibition" by Alicia Gaspar de Alba
  3. "Walls of Empowerment: Chicana/o Indigenist Murals of California" by Guisela Latorre
  4. UCLA Frontera Collection
  5. "El Arte y la Educación Artística en Contextos de Salud"
  6. "Pacific Standard Time: South-South"
  7. "Curating Differently: Feminisms, Exhibitions and Curatorial Spaces" by Jessica Sjöholm Skrubbe