HYPERALLERGIC | How Crafting and Welding in Rural New Mexico Shaped an Artist

By Susan Wallner

The familiar world of her childhood, made strange by time, is the impetus for Paula Castillo’s new body of work.

SANTA FE — Paula Castillo grew up in rural New Mexico in the 1960s and ’70s, in the small town of Belén, south of Albuquerque. As a child, one of Castillo’s chores was to help her dad organize his scrap heaps, pulling nails from wood and sorting metal. She became a sculptor working primarily in steel, based in Española in northern New Mexico. But in 2017, she returned home to care for her parents. She began to help her dad again, this time with a small quarry he ran until just recently. Driving back and forth to the pit, she noticed a dramatic mountain known as a sky island. “The shocking thing is that, although I consider myself a visual person, I couldn’t remember seeing this mountain growing up. So it became my visual metaphor for an inquiry into origins.”

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