I was born to Don Alfonso Castillo Orta and Doña Soledad Martha Hernandez Baez in the town of Azucar de Matamoros Puebla in 1967 into the center of a home of artisans. I am the sole female among five brothers.
I thank the universe for having been born in the midst of the inter-generational family, the creators of the Tree of Life.
By the age of six, my parents allowed us to play with clay. They told us in order for us to learn to manage clay and become familiar with it, we needed to play with the clay. Soon we learned to make simple figures, such as fruit, small balls, and flowers.
We did this for long periods of time, always after school and before going to play with our cousins. I loved to climb trees in order to reach the fruit. By the age of twelve we learned to form the Trees of Life, with my father supervising what we made with the clay.
Since we are a Family Cooperative, we each had various chores when it came to the Trees of Life creative fulfillment. My mother taught us to paint the Trees. The three oldest of the children learned to mold and paint while the youngest daughters became master painters. As a result, our family earned numerous prizes as well as national and international recognition. My father earned the Nacional de Ciencias y Artes prize in 1996. We also were invited to participate in large exhibitions.
I completed primary, secondary, preparatory school, and earned a bachelor in accounting. I only worked in the field of accounting for one year. I preferred to design Trees of Life.
Playing with the elements of life – LAND, WATER, AIR and FIRE – is special, and with these elements one can create pieces that gives voice, sentiment, emotion and, most importantly, tell the history of families or of cultures or societies that have vanished.
For me, what personally draws me, is to demonstrate social and cultural problems by giving voice to our Mother Earth through clay.
I stopped giving classes in 2012. It was a difficult decision but one that has allowed me to utilize my tools to teach the world that we can save Mother Earth and learn to treat all living things with respect.
In 2013, I was awarded the prized National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship Award. What a great honor to receive this award. It brought me great joy but also sorrow to not be able to share it with my father and teacher, who died in 2009. However I have shared it with the Family Cooperative, and with our daughter, Veronica Alfonsina Salas.