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NEW MEMBER INTERVIEW - Jerrold Dwayne Castro

posted Apr 29, 2020, 7:04 AM by North Tampa Arts League

For our second member interview, we feature one of our newest members, recently stationed at MacDill AFB, Jerrold Dwayne Castro. Jerrold is originally from Guam and is deeply immersed in his art and pulls inspiration from his cultural roots.

 Who are you and what do you do?

 Hello! I am Jerrold Dwayne Castro. I hold a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from the Academy of Art University, SF and a Bachelor degree in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts, from the University of Washington.  I am also Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army—newly reassigned to MacDill, AFB.

 Why do you do what you do?

I have always had a passion for creating art. I feel that it is a big part of my identity. I never feel that I want to paint or draw, but I have to. Like eating or breathing, as long as I can remember, I have always created art and I cannot see myself ever stopping.

 What’s your background?

I am a Chamoru--born and raised on the island of Guam (Guahan). I left my island home with my high school sweetheart in 1998 to start our journey together in Seattle where I received my undergrad degree and a commission into the US Army in 2002. I’ve been stationed in many places within the US and overseas and I have multiple deployed in Iraq. Since our time in the military we have grown our family to four beautiful children.

 What role does the artist have in society?

I believe that artists reflect the world around them. They are commentators of life, and naturally, they influence the people through the conversations that their work produces. I honestly believe that the inborn creative drive that artist have to reflect and respond to their personal experiences brings value and gives substance. So, I would say, that the artist's primary role in society is to make our lives richer and have meaning.

 How has your practice changed over time?

From a skills perspective, I believe that I have grown so much through my studies and many, many hours of practice. However, as a whole, I believe that I as my views changed over time, so has my work. Having been in the Army my entire adult life and having travelled in different parts of the world, being exposed to different cultures, I have a better appreciation of my Chamoru heritage and culture. I want to celebrate my culture through my work.

 What work do you most enjoy doing?

I love to paint, but I find that the focus required for me to produce the type and quality of work I want requires more time and requires mental stamina. I can tell you that I enjoy sitting at a coffee shop with my earbuds on and just drawing in my sketchbook. That is much harder to do with a six month old in the house now and since we are just settling into the area, so I find myself doing late nite sessions in the studio. 


What art do you most identify with?

Figurative Art. My thesis project, Inafa’måolek: To Make Good was completely figurative. I did a lot of research looking at figurative works from the old masters to modern and contemporary artists. I find it interesting in how different artists interpret the figure and using the figure to communicate the message they are trying to articulate. It is both baffling and inspiring—a challenge that I will continue to undertake.


What themes do you pursue?

Naturally, I am drawn to figurative work since much of my studies involved the classical figure. But I will paint or draw almost anything that inspires me. I love the aspects of light and atmosphere—both in landscape and the figure. I enjoy playing with value and color harmony. I love to be surprised by quality marks in a piece. I appreciate powerful concepts behind a work so I try to make sure that the context is clear in any piece I create, be it contemporary, narrative, classical, and to a certain degree, abstract.


What is your favorite artwork or artist?

I have many favorite works of art—so I can’t really pull one in particular. I am, however, from a family of artists so many of my favorites artists that I am related to: Ronald J. Castro, Richard R. Castro, Jeff Harris, Frank Perez—But some well known artists I appreciate are: Ann Gale, Zack Zdrale, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Richard Schmidt, Jeremy Mann, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Banksy to name a few.

 Describe a real life situation that inspired you.

My family has property on the northern beaches of Guam. It is secluded in that majority of the land is surrounded by a military base and the remainder is wildlife refuge. Every Sunday for as long as I can remember, my family would meet at the beach and enjoy the day. I grew up walking the jungle, combing the beach, learning how to fish as hunt, and understanding the importance of being with and supporting family. Growing up the way I did inspires me every day.

 What memorable responses have you had to your artwork?

I remembered during my first solo show where I presented my thesis project for my MFA, as I was introducing my body of work to the visitors, I took in the moment as my family was standing there and listening. I saw how proud they were of me, knowing how hard I worked to produce the work and attain my degree. They didn’t have to say anything but that was the best response and one I will never forget.

 Should Art be funded?

Yes!! I also believe that funding from government should not be the only way to invest in the arts. Funding for the arts should include private, community, industry, and entrepreneurs sources since everyone has an interest to ensure that art continues to enrich our lives.

Describe NTAL, its mission in your own words.

The NTAL is a group that strives to provide collaborative relationships between artists and community through engagements, education, and support to enrich the Tampa area.

 How do you see your club growing?

Having spent many years in the military, I’ve come to know many service members who are extremely talented in the arts. Reaching out to that community is a great way to “grow the ranks” in the NTAL. I also think that NTAL has the potential to grow through integration of artists that have roots in the area but may have moved. I believe that the best way to influence this group is to find them while they are young (middle and high schoolers) and show them the benefits of supporting their local art league. The message that “home is where the heart is” holds truth to a degree that is unrivaled.

 What is your dream project?

In a sense, I’m working on my dream project. I see my body of work as an evolving project that explores my culture and my identity as a Chamoru. I’ve already done my first series of this exploration, looking at the colonial aspects of my culture, but I have many other ideas where I can tell the Chamoru story and celebrate my culture.

 What is the best advice you’ve been given?

I get a lot of advice from so many great people...but I would honestly say that the advice that I follow the most is one that I can't pin down who told me—maybe an artist, maybe a saint, someone in the Army, or a combination thereof—I am not sure: "Slow down, have patience, and trust the process." I’ve tried to follow this philosophy in many aspects of my life—but it can be challenging to do so the military. When I do, however, it seems to work.

 Professionally what is your goal?

This should be my final tour in the military and I am very excited to move towards a new chapter in my life where I can place more attention in my art and teaching at the post-secondary level. That being said, when I retire from the Army, I want to teach art back home at the University of Guam and be more productive in my body of work.

 To see more of Jerrold's art:

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