Through our A.W.E. profile series we’ll introduce you to some of the people who power our organization.
Meet Maureen Castillo! She began working for A.W.E. as an AIR intern in May 2016, while she was a senior at Carmen High School of Science and Technology: South Campus. She grew up on the South Side of Milwaukee, off of Cesar Chavez Dr. and now resides in West Allis with her family. Here’s some of our conversation:
How did you hear about A.W.E? How did you decide to apply?
My advisor in high school told me about it. It was past the date to apply, but I thought I might as well try. I feel like the only reason that really encouraged me to actually fill out the application was because it said “artist.” I love art and I thought- it’s probably going to be fun and I’m gonna learn a lot from it.
What did you learn from this experience?
Paint! I learned how to paint…I worked with John and Sandra by the 16th Street Clinic on the Health Equity Mural. Working on that project was the first time I spoke my mind. I feel like through doing that I started to come out of my shell a little bit. I felt accepted by the people around me because I’ve never worked with people who love art. Working all summer with people who love art just as much as you do makes you feel comfortable. It makes you feel like you belong.
Your brother, Fredy, joined in on a lot of projects this summer. How did he get involved?
I would come home covered with paint and he would just ask, “What were you doing at work?” and I would tell him and then he wanted to come to work with me. My mom was also saying that I should take him with me. And I didn’t see that it was a problem and he did help out and he pulled in little kids and started playing with them which was good for the community too. So, I just dragged him along too.
How did it feel to make art in your old neighborhood?
I lived on 18th street by the Health Equity mural. That was like, my neighborhood. I’ve moved, but it was good to be back and add art there. When we added that mural there, it felt like we improved our community a little bit. A bunch of people [in the neighborhood] who were just passing by stopped and picked up a paintbrush and helped for a little and then just moved on with their day. Seeing that, it kind of made me think that once it was done, people were just gonna enjoy that it was there, that it was just part of them now. I like to think that people think more of it than that it’s just pretty.
You also did some photography for A.W.E. When did you become interested in photography?
At the end of 8th grade, I found myself taking a lot of photos of pretty much anything, mostly nature with my phone only. My brother got me a camera about two years ago, but up until high school, I didn’t realize that I could do it for a job. So, when I noticed that you could [become a photographer], I started to take it more seriously. When I found out that A.W.E. needed photographers, I thought that it was a great fit.
What would you say to someone thinking about applying to be an intern?
Do it, apply, it’s gonna be amazing. You’re gonna have a bunch of fun with kids. You’re gonna make friends, friends in different parts of Milwaukee. We went to the North side and the South Side. If you love art. If you love painting. If you just enjoy art and want to be a professional artist or just do it as a hobby, you should apply. It’s just, woah, it’s amazing. I love A.W.E., honestly. You’re never going to get bored, you’re going to grow, you’re going experience a lot of things, you’re going to have to- I feel like i’ve gotten more creative. Just apply because its gonna be awesome.
Maureen now has a photography job with Visual Image Photography, based out of Cedarburg and Waukesha. She will be taking school and team portraits for schools in the Milwaukee and Chicago area.