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ode to mom

I'll Be Behind You (2023)

by: Zyrell Castillo

about the artist:

Hello, I'm Zyrell! I am a second year psychology major and law & society minor. As a child I watched my dad draw a lot, but never got interested in it until middle school. Through the persuasion of others, who constantly told me I had a knack for art, I worked to improve my skills through watching videos and constant practising. In high school, I found love in graphic design, and continued to expand my world of art by exploring different mediums. I fell in love with acrylics, then watercolours, gouache and inks. I dreamed of an art and creatives related career, but often didn't feel like it was an acceptable choice to make. So, I focused on academics, and declined an opportunity to follow a graphic design career path proposed to me by my high school graphics teacher, who was always so supportive of my art. Instead, I applied to UBC and got in, continuing on to further my academic education. Upon arriving, in my first semester of my first year, I took contemporary art and was blessed to have a supportive TA who encouraged my work and believed in everything I was putting forward even though I didn't myself. He was adamant that my art was important. Even so, I majored in psychology with my mind set on law school after my bachelors. After the only art course I've taken at UBC, I have not taken another since (I had not been able to get into a class) and worked on my major and minor instead. Since then, art has become less of a constant in my life, with my materials and paintings going untouched and unfinished. It's a little embarrassing to say when I'm submitting a piece for this, but I've barely drawn and have instead been in massive periods of art block for the last year or so. However, when I saw this artist's call, I saw it as an opportunity to find my creative side again! I'm glad to have tried it, for all that it's worth.

about the artwork:

Inks, Gouache, Watercolors | 9*12 in

Originally, this piece was titled "in your arms" to highlight the aspect of intimacy and closeness that mothers and children have. My work depicts longing for that intimacy. I found it funny to have an individual, depicted as looking through the hole, yearn to be a mouse just because this mouse is loved and cared for by their mother. It answers the question: What would make someone want to be a mouse? Mice which are generally considered dirty pests, which have a reputation of carrying diseases, are surely not something someone wants to be. Yet despite all this, the mouse is loved. This portrays a narrative that you can have everything, be everything, and still lack something essential to our being–a mother's love. As is seen, the individual does not fit through this hole that leads to a scene of care, illustrating how they may have outgrown this "love of a mother." When I was younger, I felt that I was much closer to my mom, and felt more needed and loved. It was me and her against the world. However, as I got older, I felt myself drifting from her, and as I grew into myself, I felt that I grew out of that space between her arms. Her love seemed to fit a child that I was not anymore. My mom and I had a lot of disagreements and many back-and-forth’s. I admit I was not the kindest at times, but for years I felt cheated out of a relationship with my mother that I had seen with others around me. I changed the title last minute to instead allude to what isn't seen in the work. Behind the mice is the individual who longed to be them, but behind the individual is the love they haven't seen yet. The individual is too focused on what they have lost, to realize what's around them. The hole depicts a tunnel, sort of like having tunnel-vision. My mom's relationship and I have improved greatly over the years, as I've come to realize that I was too focused on the past I've experienced to appreciate the love that I was experiencing. Of course, it was different from when I was 5, but at 15 I hadn't realized that love evolves with you. Nearly 20 now and I know that my mother was always behind me, supporting me, and loving me like she always has. I was not a mouse and will never be a mouse, so why was I so focused on what was instead of what is?