Valley of Sun 2019

In The Valley of the Sun, watercolor, gouache, and acrylic works on paper combine landscape and geometric abstraction to reimagine what progress and modernity might look like in another Latin America. Named in honor of Sogamoso, Colombia--"City of the Sun" to the Muisca, one of Colombia's indigenous peoples. The Valley of the Sun uses a speculative visual vocabulary to envision what regions threatened by extractive capitalism might look like under different, more equitable conditions. Rather than a literal depiction of an alternate Sogamoso, In The Valley of the Sun is a visual tone poem where modernist pattern-making, landscape painting, and traditional textile patterns combine to yield new possibilities.


carolyn castaño

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It’s Complicated

In mixed-media paintings that evoke the amorous adventures of Latin American guerillas, presidential candidates, drug lords, and beauty queens, It’s Complicated considers our collective fascination with tabloid images of love and infamy in the already image-saturated milieus of politics and narco-trafficking. Conflicting fantasies of wealth, honor, dominance, criminality, true love, and revolution contend for the personas of figures such as Pablo Escobar, Ingrid Betancourt, and the ill-fated “Miss Sinaloa 2008” Laura Zuñiga, the ancient, human hunger for myth and our indefatigable capacity to adore our folk heroes meeting global fandom, glamour and digital media to create a uniquely Latin American mystique.

Like the girlish collages of a scrap-booking fan, the portraits have been “glamorized” with glitter, flocking and rhinestones, these tawdry and often tragic icons sanctified by loving and devoted embellishment with commonly available home-craft materials. Graphically painted in a style that recalls comic book illustration or 80’s poster art, each of the subjects is surrounded by motifs, colors, and patterns that relate to specific parts of their biographies. The green and white stripes in the painting of Pablo Escobar and Virginia Vallejo recall Escobar’s favorite soccer team, the Atlético Nacional of Medellin, and the camouflage in the paintings of Ingrid Betancourt and Clara Rojas correspond to the uniforms worn by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). The crown and the Sinaloan sombrero, the formal accoutrements of a forlorn beauty queen, Miss Sinaloa and her narco boyfriend, are joined by another set of instruments – the familiar placard and height-marking bars of the mugshot.

Virginia Vallego; 2009; acrylic and mixed-media on canvas

Drug lord, Lover, Confidante, diptych; 2009; acrylic and mixed-media on canvas

Pablo Escobar; 2009; acrylic and mixed-media on canvas

Beauty Queen and Drug Lord, diptych; 2009; acrylic and mixed-media on canvas

Guerilla Fighter; 2009; acrylic and mixed-media on canvas

Campaign Manager, Guerrilla Fighter, Presidential Candidate, tryptich; 2009; acrylic and mixed-media on canvas

Clara Rojas; 2009; acrylic and mixed-media on canvas

Ingrid Betancourt; 2009; acrylic and mixed-media on canvas