We had the good fortune of connecting with Juliana Bustillo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Juliana, why did you pursue a creative career?
It came from an obsession of looking. I practice painting to understand and dissect images and forms. School also shaped me into wanting to pursue an artistic career. Beginning in community college at ELAC (East Los Angeles College), where I took the first of many art classes. To then transferring into Cal State Long Beach, graduating with a BFA in Fine Arts. It was here that I realized that I wanted to become a studio artist. I am now in an MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University where I continue my practice as a studio artist. Personally growing up and seeing Boyle Heights and East LA skies, the liquor stores, cypress trees, and murals have definitely had and continue to have an impact on me and my work. . 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work is an investigation of identity through community. Landscape, self, and time are constantly altering. I construct time and discuss the history of a place with layers of images and material. I’m visualizing depth as parallel spaces. Pet homes built from scrap, ladders used to hold up trees, self installed fences, and DIY solutions to everyday problems. Materials in my paintings are paper, tape, acrylic and oil paint, markers, charcoal, and color pencil on canvas. I use the landscape of Boyle Heights and East LA as subject matter. Learning to develop a strict studio practice has been the hardest challenge. Allotting time to create in a world that is set up against ‘creative endeavors’, is one of the most important lessons I learned. Creating boundaries for myself and others so that I have time and spend time in the studio. Knowing when to work and not to work as well as acknowledging what projects I believe in and want to participate in. What I would like the word to know about my practice is the magic of the landscape that I grew up in. The Boyle Heights and East LA landscape that has inspired me in my practice and taught me my values.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A walk through Elysian Park. My favorite taco stand in Boyle Heights. Gotta walk around Downtown LA. Honduras Kitchen for some baledas in Huntington Park. East LA library and a picnic in its park. The murals on the Estrada Courts Projects in Boyle Heights.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
ArtShare LA for all the opportunities. The NotRealArt crew for the grant in 2019. All my friends (y’all know who you are) for the constant support. My family. My partner in crime. And to the landscape of Boyle Heights and East LA.

Instagram: @juliaanaaaab

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