The photographer, educator, journalist, and curator Isabel Castro was born in 1954 in Mexico City but raised in Los Angeles. Her oeuvre is informed by the struggles of feminism and the Chicano movement. In 2015 she completed a master's degree in arts journalism at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. As a feminist artist working in the 1970s and 1980s, she was especially engaged with issues related to women's rights. One of her most successful series, Women under Fire (1980), was produced after Castro discovered that Chicana women were sterilized during the 1960s and 1970s at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center without informed consent and by coercive methods. The young women who sat for Women under Fire had not experienced forced sterilization themselves, but members of their family had. Castro's underdeveloped photographs, with scratched pigment over the subjects' abdomens and faces, were meant to represent a body under attack.
Her career has also included curatorial activities: in 1998 she was cocurator of Corridos sin Fronteras: A New World Ballad Tradition, an exhibition organized at the Fowler Museum at UCLA and presented again in 2002 as a traveling exhibition with the support of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives (now Smithsonian Latino Center), and Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services. Castro has also served as executive board member and interim executive director of the Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts and Education in Los Angeles. Castro was appointed one of eight art supervisors of The Great Wall of Los Angeles (1976–84), a mural art project conceived and directed by Judith F. Baca (b. 1946). She is also a member of Madre Tierra Art Press, an all-Chicana artists' collective, and has served as a juror for photography exhibitions such as Un encuentro sin palabras (1979) at the Dougherty Arts Center in Austin, Texas, and as an arts journalist for Neon Tommy, USC's Annenberg digital news website. She contributed to the groundbreaking exhibition Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation (CARA). Castro's work is held in prominent collections, such as Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art in Washington, DC. She lives and works in Los Angeles.
1976 Las Chicanas: Venas de la mujer, Woman's Building, Los Angeles
1978 Hecho en Latinoamérica: Primera muestra de la fotografía latinoamericana contemporánea, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City
1981 Hecho en Latinoamérica: Segundo coloquio latinoamericano de fotografía, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City
1983 Con Cariño: Chicano Photography, Friedrich-Alexander- Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
1983–84 Chicana Voices and Visions: A National Exhibit of Women Artists, Social and Public Art Resource Center, Venice, CA
Goldman, Shifra M. Chicana Voices and Visions: A National Exhibit of Women Artists. Venice, CA: Social and Public Art Resource Center, 1983.
Griswold del Castillo, Richard, Teresa McKenna, and Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano, eds. Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985. Los Angeles: Wight Art Gallery, University of California, 1991.
Hecho en Latinoamérica: Primera muestra de la fotografía latinoamericana contemporánea, Museo de Arte Moderno. Primer coloquio latinoamericano de fotografía. Mexico City: Consejo Mexicano de Fotografía, 1978.
Hecho en Latinoamérica: Segundo coloquio latinoamericano de fotografía. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1982.
Zetterman, Eva. "Curatorial Strategies on the Art Scene during the Feminist Movement: Los Angeles in the 1970s." In Curating Differently: Feminisms, Exhibitions, and Curatorial Spaces, edited by Jessica Sjöholm Skrubbe, 1–28. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016.