Male Art Student Gets Dolled Up, Channels His Mom's Younger Days


Fortunato Castro, a 27 year-old New York City art student, decided to depict his mother for his senior thesis, to great result. In the photos, he poses in a number of different scenarios drawing on her vintage 1970s images, from applying makeup in front of a mirror to lying across a photo backdrop nearly nude.

The concept itself is a bit of a Cindy Sherman nod, but when Castro was asked what it was like to pose as his mother, he was very clear that he’s not a man longing for another body.

At first I think I was hesitant to make these images because I’m not a woman and I don’t want to be a woman. I’m not a drag performer. And I think, being a gay man, it’s very easy for someone to put you in that hole — like, That’s a man who wants to be a woman, which isn’t what this work is about at all. I’m very protective of my mother, and I think it was really important for me to make the images as honest as they are, because they’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. And my mother isn’t perfect. I think because the images are sort of about a false reality, the only element of truth I could have is that vulnerability.

If I channeled my mom, the images would probably look like Clair Huxtable sitting in one of those wicker chairs that Black Panther Huey Newton liked so much. But sadly, Castro’s El Salvadorian mom hasn’t seen her son’s homage and probably won’t until he goes home to California, where she lives, so he can explain his project personally.

My mother is very progressive for where she comes from, but she also comes from a religious background. She’s always been super supportive of me and my art, but I’m sure if she saw them, she’d take one look and say, Oh my God, my son wants to be a woman. I’m sure she would not be able to get over that.

Image via Fortunato Castro.

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