Ako Castuera’s sculptures combine seemingly disparate elements into interwoven, hybrid forms that call into question the hierarchies around which human life is ordered. The shapes and surfaces in her work recall animals, natural phenomena and the broad miscellany of human life, while deeply familiar, their arrangement subverts the framework in which their familiarity was established. This work offers views into a world of fluid borders in which intangible connections between living/dead, animate/inanimate, place, self and other are expressed in the material language of clay, fiber, and mixed media.

Ako Castuera is a Southern California native also known for her work as a storyboard artist and writer on animated television shows such as ‘Adventure Time’, for which she received a Peabody Award in 2015 as a member of the story team. She has sustained a concurrent independent art practice, exhibiting in galleries in the U.S. as well as the Oakland Art Museum, the Japanese American Museum, the Honolulu Museum, the Smithsonian Asian Latino Pop-up Museum and the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

During her stay at VAR, Ako will pursue a thematic continuation of her recent body of work, “Temple of the Worms” an offering of thanks to the soil from which clay, her primary material, is drawn.  Ceramic fragments made over the course of the last 5 years will be reimagined as seeds to be planted in other mediums, such as drawings and textile projects. The proximity to Angel island, where two of Ako’s great-grandparents were processed and detained as immigrants from Okinawa will inform the idea of planting seeds in overlapping cultural, geographical, and biological ground.