Carolyn Castaño

Carolyn CastañoArtist’s Statement

My work examines personas and narratives associated with the narco wars and political dramas currently unfolding in Latin America. I am interested in not just the human toll of these conflicts, but in what these stories say about our often conflicted fantasies about wealth, love, criminality, honor and beauty.

These fantasies very often come into high relief in our perceptions of women in the male-dominated world of narco-trafficking.  Women are key players in the drug business as mules, money launderers, trophies and wives, not to mention as drug traffickers themselves.

The female characters in the paintings are set in acid color garden grottos, where glitter and rhinestone-encrusted tropical flora mix with coca flowers and marijuana leaves. The neon landscape is interrupted with the smudges or rolled out paint that act as a crossing out or negation, a kind of signifier of the violence and death bestowed upon the women who fell victims to narco-trafficking.

The paintings use the stories as a jumping off point; where beauty, nature and the exotic meet or rub up against the dark or the deathly as a way to explore these narratives.


Select Solo Exhibitions from 2008-2011

Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles

Select Group Exhibitions from 2008-2011

COLA 2011 Individual Artist Fellowship Exhibition, LAMAG, Los Angeles

Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement, El Museo Del Barrio, New York

Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement, Museo de Arte Zapopan, Guadalajara, Mexico

Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Select Community-Based Artwork

Watts House Project, The Flower House, Los Angeles

Summer Night Lights, Teaching Artist, Ramon Garcia Park, Boyle Heights, Calif.

Intersections, The Beauty Doll Salon, Outpost for Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Fellowships and Awards

C.O.L.A, City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship Award, Los Angeles


M.F.A., 2001
UCLA, Los Angeles

B.F.A., 1995
San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco