Joe Castillo of ‘America’s Got Talent’ demonstrates sand art

By Courtney Kincaid

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An internationally known artist from “America’s Got Talent,” Joe Castillo, performed a live exhibit of sand art, showcasing how sand can be molded into a classic masterpiece to create vivid and unique stories.

Castillo visited campus Monday as a part of the Student Activities Board’s Art Matters: Sand Animation, where he demonstrated how art can come alive and can be all around you.

Art images are created by Castillo as he scatters sand on a light table and uses his hands to tell stories in shapes and images.

The SandStory is choreographed to music and is projected on a projection screen to captivate the audience.

“It was great. I’ve seen YouTube videos, but you get a more true perspective to see his art in person,” said Matt Elmore.

Some of the stories are very specific, while others are custom.

All are finely detailed, showing specific facial features and depicting raw emotions.

“I find his artistry to be, not only generally fantastic and extremely fun to watch, but also special because it’s so unique. I think bringing people like him to campus is important to demonstrate variety in artwork,” said mathematical economics junior Drake Jackson.

Castillo uses a particular black sand that comes from the beaches in Hawaii.

Although he began telling sand stories using common ordinary sand that could be bought at a hardware store, he discovered after experimenting with 25 different types of sands that some worked better than others and some were too fine or too gritty.

Castillo attended art school in Florida, and after 18 years, moved to Kentucky to attend Asbury Theological Seminary.

His studies led him to become a pastor in Richmond, Ky., where he developed his SandStory art.

“While pastoring the church I wanted to incorporate my own artwork.  I wanted to be able to use art work to tell stories; to tell stories that would touch people’s lives and stories that would impact people,” Castillo said.

Castillo began using art in the form of pastels, oil paintings and sculptures, trying to get people to remember the sermons.

After five years he started running out of ideas and wanted something new and fresh.

The idea of presenting a sand story came about as he was walking down an aisle in Lowe’s Home Improvement store and began dragging his feet through sand that was sprawled out on the floor.

Castillo began performing SandStory art in his sermons.

He then produced video clips on YouTube, which led to his fame during his appearance on “America’s Got Talent,” season seven.

“I watched him all the way through “America’s Got Talent” and I heard about him coming here today and I got here at 5 p.m. I think he’s fabulous,” said Mary Crawford.

He has since traveled to 40 states and almost 20 foreign countries presenting his SandStory artwork.

“One of the great joys of what I’ve gotten the chance to do is tell some stories in some odd and unusual places,” Castillo said. “The SandStory has been able to touch people in ways I just had no idea that I can anticipate. It’s been a great time doing it.”