The main themes in Jewel Castro's artistic practice are Samoan history, transnational movement as it relates to identity, Samoan art forms and production, and Castro's relationships with her ancestors.
Jewel (Rasmussen) Castro was born in Chicago and raised in San Diego. Castro's mother was from Manua in American Samoa. Her maternal grandparents, the late Rev. and Mrs. Suitonu Galea'i, established the First Samoan Congregational Christian Church in San Diego in the early 1960's. The family's activities revolved around their house on the church grounds and extended family events.
"So much of the art, architecture, sounds, people, food, colors, and textures that were in my Grandparents' house and church influence my art today."
Castro's early art career was in graphic design and illustration, culminating in a position in television programming administration for KPBS Television, the public broadcasting affiliate in San Diego. Castro received a B.A. in Art with an emphasis in Painting and Drawing from San Diego State University in 1995 and an M.F.A. in Visual Arts with a Studio emphasis from the University of California at San Diego in 1998. Since then, Castro has been adamantly working as a multimedia artist, curator, part-time teacher of studio art, writer, and public speaker.
Interested in bringing national attention to contemporary Oceanic art, Castro has already curated two exhibitions that have received international exposure, including Island Affinities, Contemporary Art of Oceania at California State University Northridge (2007) with Dr. Peri Klemm and Turning Tides: Gender in Oceania Art at the University of California San Diego (2006) with Dr. Pamela Rosi.
In 2010, Castro co-chaired the Pacific Art Association's session, "Views from the Continent: Art and the U.S. Pacific Diaspora," at the College Art Association (CAA) Conference in Chicago, with art historian, Dr. Margo Machida of the University of Connecticut. That same year she participated as an exhibiting artist and speaker at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa Center for the Pacific Islands Studies special conference, Celebrating Connections 60 Years of Pacific Studies. And in 2011, the Catherine J. Smith Gallery at Appalachian State University hosted a solo exhibition of Castro's paintings and drawings called, Sail!
Jewel Castro's art and writing are published in journals, including Pacific Studies, The Contemporary Pacific, and Pacific Arts: The Journal of the Pacific Art Association, and books including "Samoan Art and Artists: O Measina a Samoa," edited by Sean Mallon, "Moon Over the Pacific" by Kay Flavell, and most recently, "Pacific Island Artists Navigating the Global Art World," edited by Karen Stevenson. She is a member of the College Art Association, the Pacific Arts Association, and is a mentor/speaker for the National Pacific Islander Educators' Network.
-Taken in part from the Catherine J. Smith Gallery About the Artist statement for Sail!