Between the Dreams and Memories of Her Culture
Visit her website: http://isabelartistfuego.wixsite.com/artwork
Three times Isabel has painted the ruins of Machu
Picchu using acrylics, in different styles and each
with different colors. And the llamas she met in
their natural habitat at 3,332 meters above the sea
level, are now shown on canvas with white skins,
which are in fact, multicolored.
The artist used to travel from Lima, the city where
she lived before coming to the United States, to the
land of her grandfather in the Peruvian highlands.
In that little town called Muqui, where currently only 1,171 inhabitants live, Isabel drank in
memories every year during her travelings withe her family. When she was a child, she loved to ride a
donkey and reap potatoes that grew there in hundreds of types and colors from that clean soil. She
used to contemplate the immensity of the mountains, the blue sky, and the crystal clear river. There
she learned to dance huayno (a genre of popular Andean Music and dance originally from the
Serranía mountains of Perú) with her grandfather. All of these things are part of Isabel’s
She discovered her artistic talent in elementary school in Peru, using her crayons and markers. When
she came to America to join her parents in 1992, she was 19 and had many dreams. "I’ve always
dreamed in vibrant and strong colors. I feel that those dreams during my childhood, adolescence and
even as an adult, are my sources of inspiration. Also, people I know in my daily life are my sources
of inspiration, my family, friends, and people I see walking on the streets. I see, I feel, I smell, I play,
I hear around me, therefore I am inspired, and my artistic spirit moves through such experiences in
Learn more about Isabel Castañeda in this video interview:
In 1999, Isabel received her first scholastic and artistic achievements in the United States. She
received her Associate Degree of Fine Arts, Magna Cum Laude, from the Northern Virginia
Community College in Virginia, (See more at her bio) Before graduating, "I was intrigued with the
photo of a Honduran girl and decided to make a portrait in acrylic. I never had painted a face in my
life. That portrait was awarded first place in painting in that year of graduation. I received a check of
motivation and a certificate of honor. I felt I was flying in the clouds and had also won me the
official title of artist”.
Regarding her work, the artist explains, "My style is realistic but I also like to compliment my
paintings with abstraction of my imagination. My palette is always full of warm colors like red,
purple, orange, magenta, and so forth." Hence she has painted animals such as passion red parrots,
horses with blue manes, and an eagle with feathers that look like they are on fire.
Amid the cultural diversity in Virginia where she lives now, where she has lived longer that in her
home homeland of Peru, emerged a story that marked her life. Mother and Baby, is the portrait of a
young Guatemalan mother carrying her child on her back. That woman reminded Isabel women from
her childhood years. "I gave a copy of that painting to an American couple. They were thinking of
traveling to Guatemala. The gift moved them to tears, since they were contemplating the idea of
adopting a little girl from Guatemala." The couple told her the gift made it very clear to proceed with
the adoption," says an excited Isabel.
"I'm learning that being an artist is not just a profession,
more than that, it is a tool to touch the hearts and lives of
people. What a great honor!” she concludes. Isabel
continues painting on a solid and heavy easel bought to
be used her lifetime. She lives in the state of Virginia.
She is a member of our Latino League of Greater
Member and blogger of TLAL