Contemporary realism
Elsa Muñoz (b. 1983), "The Din," 2016, oil on panel, 24 x 24 in., private collection

There is a lot of superb contemporary realism being made these days; this article by Allison Malafronte shines light on a gifted individual.

ELSA MUÑOZ (b. 1983) has come out of her shell over the last several years, stepping into the spotlight as an up-and-coming professional artist, exhibiting in group shows and established galleries, and “finally succumbing,” in her words, to social media. A self-proclaimed introvert, Muñoz has learned to embrace this new world and the art of sharing online and in public spaces.

(Follow Muñoz on Instagram and Twitter)

“After much thought, I realized that I’ve personally benefited from following and learning about the work of people I admire,” she writes. “So it is with this understanding that I am now making a conscious effort to connect to those with whom my images have resonated.”

Muñoz’s back story is fascinating. Born to working-class Mexican immigrants, she grew up in Chicago surrounded by typical inner-city challenges. Her mother instilled in her an early love of reading, and it was through books that Muñoz realized there was a better life beyond her neighborhood. It was also in those books that she discovered the poetry and beauty that would eventually lead her to fine art.

After studying psychology at the University of Chicago for part of a semester, she dropped out: “I was completely unsure of what to do next,” Muñoz recalls. “Finally, one day, a sketchbook and pencil ended up in my hands. Making just a few clumsy marks, I felt a profound sense of relief.”

Muñoz soon discovered the American Academy of Art (Chicago), and after taking a guided tour, she knew this was where she was meant to be. ”My guide ended the tour by showing us an in-progress painting on a drying rack,” she says. “I could hardly believe such alchemy — colors, shapes, and lines coalesced to somehow form an exquisite, almost-breathing face. I was overcome by the same sense of joyful discovery that had first broadened and deepened my world in childhood.”

Since then, Muñoz has continued to walk the artistic path, painting and studying, growing stronger with each unexpected challenge. She paints figures, still lifes, landscapes, and interiors, and has also worked on several series with symbolic themes. All of Muñoz’s paintings tell a story — always about her subjects and often about how she, as an artist and writer, observes them.

Connect with the artist at

This article was originally published in Fine Art Connoisseur magazine.

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