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Ruben Castillo
Bio: Ruben Bryan Castillo is a visual artist and educator born in Dallas, TX and currently working in Kansas City, MO. His work investigates themes of intimacy, queerness, place, and the body using a range of media including print, drawing, sculpture/installation, and video. His most recent imagery draws from a personal archive of photographs and materials, seeing the ordinary as a site for transformative potential and feeling. Castillo’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and is included in collections such as the Crossroads Hotel (Kansas City, MO), Mexic-Arte Museum (Austin, TX), National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago, IL), the Zuckerman Museum of Art (Kennesaw, GA), and the Turner Print Museum (Chico, CA). He co-chaired the panel “Queer Ephemera, Et Cetera: Encounters in the Archive” with artist Amy Cousins at the 2020 Mid-America Print Council’s Remote Symposium, organizing a conversation between five artists on the topic of queer archives. He received an MFA in visual art from the University of Kansas and a BFA in printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute. He currently teaches printmaking and drawing at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Artist Statement: My work looks at the relationship between desire and intimacy, seeing how it manifests within the phenomena of the everyday. I fixate on a still life: quiet, comfortable, never loud, but able to bring the body and mind to a stop with its vibrant lure. My practice is based as much in observational drawing as it is in research on queerness, affect, and the ordinary. I spend a lot of my time looking and thinking about others, wondering how we might relate.

I am interested in how we become emotionally influenced by desirable objects and places. Objects and spaces come designed and pre-packaged in seductive ways, triggering a basic desire for the contours of “goods” or things. Visual culture, especially in the age of social media, has prioritized advertising goods algorithmically (read: covertly) to an exacting degree and in multiple. Objects, gestures, individuals, and things have greater emotive pulls than ever before. The way we form narratives and memories around these objects—who gave this thing to me, where was I when I saw this, what did this thing remind me of—illustrates the importance these documents have as pieces of our own archives. Distilling the visual elements of these materials, I create visual signifiers of a queer intimate life.