On October 10th 1986, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck El Savador’s capital city of San Salvador. It was a defining moment in a decade of unrest: 6 years into a civil war that would continue on through the early nineties, the earthquake added devastating punctuation to an already fractured political and cultural landscape.
The ground shifted, and out of reach of falling debris, a hammock swung.
Terremoto is an exhibition by Edmonton-based artist, designer and illustrator Michelle Campos Castillo. Based on her own memories of living through the 1986 earthquake, Castillo’s work combines graphic representation of childhood experiences—she was 3 years old at the time —with other forms of memory work: audio interviews, archival materials and video recordings of her mother, sisters and father. The exhibition evades the sharp edged, front page narrative of natural disaster, and softens instead into a body of work that encircles a moment in time with overlapping narratives of community care. The woven hammock—a Salvadoran staple— became a place of refuge for Castillo and her sisters, as they slept outside to avoid the danger of crumbling architectures. As a tool and a metaphor for survival, its intertwined supports mirror a community and a family structure whose dimension Castillo intimately explores.
Terremoto consists of site-specific wall pieces, installation, audio and video media works and a publication. Materials will be available in both Spanish and English. This is the artist’s first exhibition in Vancouver. Terremoto is curated by Vanessa Kwan.
Michelle Campos Castillo is a Salvadoran visual artist living in Edmonton. She has been the recipient of several public art commissions from the City of Edmonton, including Platanos, a set of three sculptures on permanent display at Belvedere Transit Centre, and is currently producing artwork for the LRT Valley Line in the west end of the city. A frequent collaborator with artist Vivek Shraya, she has provided art direction and photography for Vivek’s Trisha photo series, graphic design for her Lambda Literary Award-nominated book, What I Love About Being QUEER, and VS Books, the artist’s imprint with Arsenal Pulp Press.
Image: Terremoto by Michelle Campos Castillo. Photo by Dennis Ha.