Leslie Moody Castro is an independent curator working between Texas and Mexico City. Castro holds a Masters from the University of Texas at Austin in Museum Education and Museum studies and a Bachelors degree from DePaul University in Chicago, with several years of writing and curation in between. Writing for Artfourm, Glasstire, and DailyServing among many others, Castro moves seamlessly between the roles of writer, critic, and curator. Her perspective on engagement is unique as she considers herself to be a shaper of conversations, a proponent of what she calls “active visitor participation”. Castro was kind enough to speak about her engagement with Mexico City, her road to curation, and the delicacy of place.
Gracelee Lawrence: Talk about how you began working between Austin and Mexico City, as well as the process of moving back and forth.
Leslie Moody Castro: It started as an accident, to be totally honest. [In undergrad] I was really interested in contemporary Latin American art, and specifically Mexico. I moved to Mexico after graduation with the intention of understanding what was actually happening. My plan was to stay six months and I ended up staying many more years. I got a job at a gallery owned by the philanthropist and collector responsible for much of the work that happened in Mexico City during the 1990s. I was basically hired on the spot- being on the periphery of the politics that govern the art world in Mexico City was a good thing.
GL: Mexico and Texas have a long, deep history that seems to be vastly ignored in our contemporary world. How does this factor into your work?
LMC: In Texas, the perception of contemporary art in Mexico is very different from the reality. I became interested in illustrating the contemporary narrative, which is how I started bringing artists from Mexico City to Texas. It was totally absurd that geographically and historically Mexico and Texas are so linked and yet very disparate and different. Mexico City has always been incredibly international- the Surrealists, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo were traveling all over before being an artist was considered international. I think in terms of an artist or a curator in a geography.
GL: How did you begin curating in the first place? What are the convergences and divergences in the different fields in which you work? How does it change your work?
LMC: The profession ‘curator’ was exposed to me while living in Chicago. I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to be an art historian, meaning go on to get my PhD and teach. I’m not an artist and I didn’t think that only being a writer could be sustainable. In my last year of undergrad I did a study abroad program and spent a month in El Salvador on a service project. I decided to look at how people create objects for devotion. I curated an exhibition to distinguish how relics help people cope with the past. I got the bug from there but still didn’t know if it was viable. When I moved to Mexico City, the gallery that I worked for continued to give me more and more freedom. I had this amazing camaraderie with the artists, worked with them to create exhibitions, and it went from there. The art history and art education, specifically thinking about visitorship, comes together in the process of producing exhibitions.
To learn more about Leslie Moody Castro’s projects, please visit lesliemoodycastro.com