Laura Castro; Rialto Gallery exhibiting artist

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What is the story line for this exhibit?

In the time before creating the works on display, the topic of food waste was at the top of my mind. I was working in a grocery store and there were occasions where I had to throw away food that was not fit for sale. All the while, I became conscious of people on the sides of roads telling passersby just how hungry they are with handwritten signs. I also did not have good habits at home and was throwing away a lot food which, now being acutely aware of the food I was discarding, also caused conflict in my mind. It’s hard to reconcile great need and great waste. In this way food insecurity and food waste are linked. 

It is important to me to resolve my own food waste and to alleviate food insecurity in my community (I say this in present-tense because these will always be ongoing efforts). The best way I knew how to do that was to make art out of photographs of food I let go to waste and donate a portion of the profits to Hope Villages of America, formerly RCS Pinellas.

Where did you train, what was your experience like, or how did you begin the style or direction you have now?

My college art education mostly consisted of ceramics and sculpture classes. I made what could be considered a prototype of the Food Insecurity series in a sculpture class led by Ryan Buyssens at the University of Central Florida. Great art teachers make a world of a difference in the limits an art student is willing to break. I feel very lucky to have had great professors at such an important time in my art education.

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The final direction I took with Food Insecurity was a product of what was readily available to me after I graduated and decided to expand upon what I started earlier, which was my computer, Gimp and Inkscape. I’m really grateful to the developers of those two free, open-source programs. The fact that those two pieces of powerful software are so easy to access is incredible. It was really fun testing the limits of my skills with those programs when creating all sixteen pieces. I learned a lot along the way just by experimentation. 

What drives your creative process and motivates you to create?

I had a very real crisis of conscious about two years ago. I felt like I needed an answer as to why to create. What is the point of it all? Is it really the best use of my time? 

I didn’t find a noble justification. 

Actually, I feel very squirrely if I don’t make anything in a while. I don’t spend much time trying to find a concrete answer these days. If I get too wrapped up in trying to find an answer, I get paralyzed with doubt. It’s probably better not too have an answer. If I were ever to narrow it down to one definitive reason to create art I’d be at risk of sabotaging it.

Describe your style, subject, or creative process.

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I’m not chasing a unique personal style or creative process. I want to always be open to whatever my inspiration dictates and develop an idea in the most appropriate medium. Photography has the element of documenting a real occurrence. For Food Insecurity, photography was the most appropriate medium because it felt like the best way to display food being wasted next to actually having food rotting on display. 

As far as subject matter, I want to always say something about what it means to be human. My logo, when presented individually represents one person, but when repeated, represents many. In this way I want to convey the feeling of trying to understand oneself to understand the human experience.

Laura Castro’s Food Insecurity will be on exhibit through the end of December in the Rialto Theatre Gallery. Viewing available by appointment and during events.

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