Bridging Cultures

Michelle Campos Castillo draws inspiration from her Salvadorian roots

Life for Michelle Campos Castillo began in San Salvador, El Salvador where she first fell in love with drawing “all the time and all over the place.” That love only grew when her family immigrated to Canada and she enrolled in arts programs, including attending Victoria School of Visual and Performing Arts in Edmonton.

Michelle Campos Castillo

Though the transition into a new culture came with challenges for Campos Castillo, she believes without art, it would have been harsher.

“Art really helped ground me and give me something to hold onto,” she says. “That’s the beautiful thing about art.”

While her first love was drawing, Campos Castillo now has a portfolio that features a wide variety of mediums and disciplines including painting, fibre and textiles, comics, and installation art—an example of which can be found on permanent display at the Belvedere Transit Centre and is titled Planatos.

“Platanos” features three bunches of vibrant green plantains hanging from the ceiling like unilluminated chandeliers and was commissioned by the Edmonton Arts Council in 2018.

“Planatos” at the Belvedere Transit Centre

Despite having spent most of her life in Canada, Campos Castillo’s origins are never far from her mind. “Where I’m from, Salvadorian culture, is always a big influence on me. I always want to celebrate that culture. It’s always going to be a part of me.”

She explains that in the midst of political and social upheaval in El Salvador it’s the kindness of the people, the food, and the culture that she’s most interested in gaining inspiration from.

As for Edmonton, there are many things she appreciates about the city, but the proximity to nature is one of the highlights. “I need to make that pilgrimage to the river every so often. I find it really grounding for me, I’m taking the history of that area, and it’s the natural beauty of the city, the big skies.”

Campos Castillo is also a recipient of the 2022 Edmonton Artists Trust Fund (EATF). The EATF was established in 1997 with the objective of investing in artists living and working in the greater Edmonton area. A joint venture between the Edmonton Arts Council and the Edmonton Community Foundation, recipients are nominated for their work in areas including literature, music, theatre, visual arts, dance, and filmmaking. The $15,000 trust award is intended to support artists with both their living and working expenses.

With the $15,000 trust she hopes to focus on projects such as a graphic novel she has been working on. “Financially, it just makes such a difference to be able to invest in yourself.”

To celebrate the 25th year of the EATF awards, in 2023 there will be 25 awards of $15,000 each.

Please note the change in deadline to August 1, 2023. Get your nominations in ASAP!

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