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Catherine Castillo: sharing love and peace through art

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Catherine Castillo’s acrylic paintings aim to promote positivity, love and happiness.

For Catherine Castillo, creating art heals her soul.

Catherine Castillo Artist-Artista
Catherine Castillo

For Catherine Castillo, creating art heals her soul.

Shortly after migrating to New York from the Dominican Republic in 2002, Castillo married at a young age and had her first daughter, Gabriela Alejandra. She also gave birth to a son, Hector Manuel. After nine years, the marriage was dissolved and Castillo began to search for herself.

“In my desperate search for happiness, I listened carefully to the old me, who I lost in the process of an experience, which made me the woman I am today,” she said, reflecting on the difficult time in her life. “My inner voice began to let me love myself again, and with it, let others to love me.”

It was that search for peace within herself that led Castillo to begin creating art three years ago. She began painting as an expression of herself — a way to let go of the struggles in life and reconnect with her childhood.

“When you hold on to things, you block yourself,” she said. “People go through a lot in life and the best way to express yourself is through a positive thing — for me, it’s visual.”

Castillo, 32, now lives in Elizabeth, New Jersey. In April 2013, she met her current partner and father of her youngest daughter, Luna. With her new love, her passion for the arts were revived in a new shape.

Catherine Castillo

Though she has left the island, many of the colors of her home are seen in her art. Her paintings come from a place of passion. She repeatedly pours her emotions onto canvas with acrylic paint creating a texturized finished product.

“They are truthful to all my emotions,” the artist said, adding that she wants to spread positive vibes, love, peace and happiness though her creations.

She has also used a distorted version of her face as a way to promote self-esteem, belief in self, and to convey messages of peace and harmony. Castillo aims to promote peace and respect to one another and is a believer in the changes that can take effect in the universe through art.

Castillo

Though she began painting for herself, Castillo began sharing her artwork with a few customers at the restaurant she bartends at in New York. That soon led to her first art exhibit of 22 pieces in the autumn of 2015 in New York City.

“People saw potential, so I wanted to share my work with everyone,” she said.

Castillo is currently working on a new project, designing handmade bracelets, called Good Vibes Only. The purpose of the bracelets are to spread the love as a blessing and protection to one self and the ones they love.

She is also working to create a T-shirt line that includes her drawings of The Hamsa, which represents protection and repels negative energy; The Elephant Lover, which stands for good luck, wisdom and serenity; and The Lola, which represents the love for yourself.

The final T-shirt design is titled “I am my own brand,” which Castillo said is dear to her heart because it is her reflection and how she wants people to recognize her.

Catherine Castillo Art -10

Castillo’s father still lives in the Dominican Republic and the artist often reflects on what he told her when she was a little girl.

“He said, I was born with wings, beautiful wings — with a free spirit and pure soul,” Castillo remembered. “I always looked forward to fly freely in the open sky.”

Though she is still trying to find her identity as an artist, Castillo said painting is one way that she can fly.

“I strongly believe that anything you put your mind to, you can do it,” she said.

“Believe in yourself.”

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Shanna Fortier
Shanna Fortier is an award-winning photojournalist based in Colorado. She currently works as a community editor for Colorado Community Media in the South Metro Denver area. Previously, she was the Associate Editor at the Palm Coast Observer, in Palm Coast, Florida. Shanna enjoys the intimate way of capturing the true feeling of an environment or essence of a moment through the lens of a camera. Photographing offers a unique way of looking at the world. It is her love of traveling, culture, curiosity for the unknown and desire to tell a story that drives her photography. She has been awarded several photography and reporting awards from the Florida Press Association and the Local Media Association, including the prestigious Robert J. Ellison Memorial Award for Excellence in Portfolio Photography from the Florida Press Association in the 2011 Better Weekly Newspapers Contest. Her other journalism awards are in feature photography, sports photography, portfolio photography and agriculture and environmental reporting. Shanna also does mission work in Guatemala. It is there that she has had the privilege not only to document, but to also serve the community of children at a feeding center, Campos de Sueños, a partnership with Iglesia del Camino. Her series of documentary portraits from Guatemala was featured at Hollingsworth Gallery, in Palm Coast, Florida, in October 2013. Shanna also takes side jobs in photojournalism and lifestyle photography, including but not limited to weddings, engagements, maternity, newborns and portraits, which she approaches in a photojournalistic manor. She will gladly pack her gear for an adventure almost anywhere.

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