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Rising Stars: Meet Elza Burkart

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elza Burkart.

Hi Elza, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I moved to Los Angeles about nine years ago from Austin, TX with my ex, we arrived in our 80’s Lincoln limousine named Priscilla and within the first month of living here, we racked up hundreds of dollars in parking tickets and someone smashed the windows in. It was quite an entrance but Los Angeles is the home I’ve always dreamed of. Nine years later, I’m still in Echo Park, where I work as a multidisciplinary artist. My first love and main focus is painting and I am currently preparing to show in New Orleans at Mortal Machine Gallery.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Haha, this just made me spiral a little bit (in a good way!) No, my path has been FAR from smooth. I grew up as an undocumented immigrant, so even at a young age, putting myself where I wanted to be was a challenge, anything I wanted to do had to be done in some sideways manner. After high school, I came back to Europe (I am from Corsica but my parents moved to Northern California when I was seven years old) to experience life without so many roadblocks but I still felt “behind” which is a feeling that follows me around to this very day. Being an artist is not easy. Being an artist in a chaotic, vibrant and fast city like Los Angeles is even more challenging. I’ve definitely had moments where I have a hard time creating because I feel overwhelmed by the reality of being both an artist and businesswoman, I don’t always have the energy to be both at the same time. I’ve learned a lot about working with other people as well as trusting my instinct on someone’s intentions. I have to laugh sometimes when I think back to meetings I’ve taken with people that “love my work” but upon meeting are more interested in dissecting my sexuality and you realize you aren’t there for work. That’s life though, I take all the challenges and use the lessons as an incentive to create a world for myself where that doesn’t happen. Surround myself with hard-working, creative and passionate people who make opportunities happen for each other and make sure to be respectful and supportive!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I paint from my life, so every piece is extremely special to me. I do very close up cropped portraits, chosen from photographs I take of people that are close to me. I only paint with one color, this dark inky blue gray called Payne’s Gray on a light pink primer so the hues are sort of dreamy and soft, while the images still feel very real. I also do a lot of loose illustrations that are basically just my daydreams where women are rolling around freely, in big lush flowers. My paintings and illustrations could be considered erotic, I just feel very unapologetic about pleasure and illustrating that.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
When covid-19 shut down the city, it was a huge shock but a shift that I never knew I needed. I was home for the first time. I didn’t have to be at the bar, working, didn’t have to feel like I had to attend everything, it was just quiet. I learned how important taking that time actually was. For the very first time in my life, I experienced living on a rhythm that was entirely up to me and it put things in perspective for me. Suddenly being my own boss was absolutely necessary because that freedom became vital. I’ve definitely learned to put my work before anything else and to create as many opportunities for myself to keep that freedom.

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