By Artists For Artists

Elsa Muñoz: Authenticity and Warmth In a Cold Society

Healing Art

In the modern capitalistic mindset, a human’s true intentions and feelings are often hidden in an attempt to gain something and gather more for the self. Sincerity, authenticity, and straight-forwardness became rare qualities, hard to be found behind a smartphone’s screen. With this in mind, artist Elsa Muñoz lives and creates art in opposition to these dark sides of society: her art is the embodiment of warmth, comfort, and realness.

"Sorting Beans" by Elsa Muñoz, oil on panel, 2010
"Burning Branch" by Elsa Muñoz, oil on panel, 2010

“Because I’ve experienced it myself in others’ work, I believe in the possibility of art as a mechanism for healing and connection in an increasingly isolating world.”

"At the Table" by Elsa Muñoz, oil on panel, 2011

Growing up in a troubled neighborhood, Muñoz found a way to escape this morbid reality through prose and poetry her mother introduced her to. Through books, she became familiar with the universal themes in art. “In many ways, literature felt like a visual medium, in the way that it painted other worlds, other realities,” she says.

"Boy In Green" by Elsa Muñoz, oil on panel, 2016
"Summer Boy" by Elsa Muñoz, oil on panel, 2016

Elsa’s discovery of her artistic abilities differs from many other young artists’. Painting was hardly on her mind as a career or a pastime choice, yet an art teacher noted that she should consider exploring her abilities in a school he attended – American Academy of Art. Elsa decided to study Psychology instead; a choice that led to a breakdown and depression upon her realizing it was initially a wrong one.

Poetry of Art

Soon after, remembering her teacher’s advice, she “enrolled in the only art school I’d ever heard of”. At the American Academy of Art, Muñoz has chosen the traditional realist approach to the painting, but within those parameters, her palette and technique are largely intuitive. For some time, Elsa had annual shows and was in a constant production mode, until she realized she had little time to explore new ideas.

“I’ve been taking a break from deadlines and it has been such a fruitful time for research.”

"Controlled Burn 3" by Elsa Muñoz, oil on panel, 2015

Inspired by writings on the shadow and the unconscious by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and the art practices of Kerry James Marshall and Vincent Valdez, Elsa Muñoz creates lifelike oil paintings. Depicting human figures, still lifes and spaces, and landscapes, the artist doesn’t simply produce an academic work but adds her own unique style – a feeling of genuine realness and warmth. Aiming for a connection with the viewer, Muñoz hopes that her art will invoke a desire for honest and gentle internal dialogues.

"Night Forest I" by Elsa Muñoz, oil on panel, 2011
"Night Forest II" by Elsa Muñoz, oil on panel, 2011

“When done with any kind of sincerity, art is anything but frivolous and indulgent. It is an attempt at communication and connection to ourselves and others. I can hardly think of anything more necessary in our modern society.”

All images copyright of Elsa Muñoz

You can view more work by Elsa on her Instagram and website.

Article written by Katarina Petric

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