Keisha Castello was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1978. She was educated at the Edna Manley College and Roehampton University (U.K.). She has exhibited widely in Jamaica and abroad, including Curator’s Eye II (2006) at the NGJ, Infinite Islands (2007) at the Brooklyn Museum and the Global Caribbean Project (2009) in Miami and France. She currently resides in England. Her exhibition in Young Talent V is curated by David Boxer.
I remember being quite good at making things with which I would use as props in my world of imaginative play as a child. I used to be quite in awe of my older brother so anything he would make I would copy to or imitate to the best of my ability. When I was in primary school it was this kind of creative activity that gave me the confidence to come out of my self a little and engage more with my class mates. I would get other students coming up to me wanting to get drawings or science diagrams in their exercise book. I never thought of my life as an artist until late high school days. I grew up in places the Jamaican society termed ghettos and lived with a family of my three siblings and a strict Christian mother and worldly father until I was fourteen. The psychological make-up of these societal institutions impacted me in many ways and much was internalised as a young girl. At first I found solace in the down to earth nature of my high school teachers and the safe containing walls of the art room. I developed an admiration for the creative space that held me together when every other aspect of my academic life and adolescent life in high school made no sense to me. Under the influence of my art teachers I began to feel confident about my life after high school.
The next stage of my life was to be at Edna Manley College. This marked the beginning of art as a very significant role in my life; it had me caressing different hues of my soul where creativity found expression in earthy coloured moths trapped by camouflage to hybrid quirky creatures hidden in the unknown world of oddly crafted shadow boxes. I also found my self creating another life in which I worked with children through to adults making and teaching art with a conscious effort of wanting to give back to world with which I felt a common emotional thread. In both worlds I was witness to the power of art and its transcendental power to transform as well as facilitate individuation. I am most proud and honoured to have been a co-pioneer of the REDRUBBERBAND mural project that brought together and held very primitive and desirable art making which gave persons voices a safe medium of expression. This was for me a most dynamic experience to carry into my present pursuits as a trainee art therapist.
I am currently working with a group of mentally ill persons presenting with schizophrenic diagnosis. Within this clinical setting at first I struggled with my role as a therapist versus my role as the artist. I am still amazed at my journey which is now centre stage. Everything I have created in the past year and a half has grown out of my contact with mental health studies and having to practise in clinical capacity which demands an open closeness to personal self knowledge that wrenched me violently from my self. Thankfully I regained my footing through creativity.
My most recent works have been inspired by my current studies to qualify as an art psychotherapist. The course is Jungian based so I have been looking at psychological literature that informs the fusion of art and psychology to be used for human psychological development. I have always believed in the power of the mind and the many complex layers it possess. As an art psychotherapist trainee you are made to delve into your own unconscious mind, peel away layers of your self in order to facilitate another in doing so. These images are a reflection my own unconscious rants. They are spontaneous images that came to me in times when word language was not enough to speak my emotions. These images are symbols from my unconscious self that brings to life archetypes and speaks to mythology.
My reflection on these latest works presents me with thoughts about the earliest relationship between mother and baby and the symbolic formation of language formed between them through unconscious communication. The phenomenal pattern of this relationship becomes the ones we reflect later in our adult life. the unconscious mind holds a repository of memories that have been forgotten but that may nevertheless be accessible to consciousness through art making. In these works I explore my shadow. The shadow of our self is a part of the unconscious mind that reeks of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. the shadow is one of three most recognisable archetypes. The more repressed this shadow is the darker and denser the primal instincts linked to this archetype. tTe madness of this shadow is prone to project repressed inferior feelings into another and are so powerful that if not recognised, can alter ones state of relating to others. Despite its capacity for dark deeds, the shadow of the unconscious is the seat of creativity that informs my work.
— Keisha Castello