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Talking Art with Marka Burns, Part Two: As a Career

This is the second-part of an interview with Marka Burns, president of the Long Beach Creative Group, a non-profit community-based organization. Marka shared with us about the origins of the Long Beach Creative Group, their vision, her journey as an artist, and the importance of art and its development in the community.

[In case you missed it, read Part-One of the interview]

Marka Burns "Garden of Earthly Delights #3", 12" x 12", Painting of a pot of flowers in a various stages of blooming ad death. Orange background.
Marka Burns "Garden of Earthly Delights #3", 12" x 12"


LFL: It can be hard to make your career solely an artist. Most of us are half and half, or three quarters and such.

Marka: It terrifies parents that their children’s majors are art. Many, many artists go into teaching for that reason. They need to make a living, but they also have dedication to their students, or to the process. I was really meant to be a teacher. I loved every minute of teaching. At Cal State Long Beach. It was fascinating.

LFL: There's a specific calling to teaching. Do you have a medium that you prefer when working with art?

Marka: I think I'm best known for collage. Then I moved on, I'm really doing some digital collage now, which I really enjoy. You could look at my website.

LFL: I did. I looked through some of your artwork, actually. I love all the colors that you put together and the use of body with nature. It's kind of spiritual, to me at least.

Mixed Media Painting by Marka Burns. Woman in fetal position in foreground with tree growing above her. Large full moon is in background.
Mixed Media Painting by Marka Burns

Marka: I always have to have some sort of inspiration. I had just read a book called Mad Enchantment. It's about 800 pages, but it's about Monet's life. And about how the garden and the pond came about and et cetera, and so on. And his life as an artist. He was very difficult, actually. There was a part of the book that said, in romanticism, which was the era, they often thought there were... Monet kind of thought, there were nymphs in the pond. And they're basically 114 nymphs at the time that took care of different bodies of water. I was so fascinated. So, I went off on that theme of the nymphs in the water, and how he would go out every morning to the lily pond and sort of gaze into the water. And, I mean, it was a fantasy, but I turned it into a theme. I did maybe 20 paintings about that I wasn't doing digital. I guess they're part digital: collage and painting.

LFL: Oh, wow. I love your you know, connection I'm very much into water is a theme.

Marka: So? Oh, you're an artist?

LFL: Yes, although, you know, sometimes when you get to teaching your own practice gets a little, you know, quieter.

Marka: Well, I found it very hard to teach and to be an artist at the same time, however I still managed to create art. Now I always admire people or professors, who also maintain a really fabulous career in with galleries and collectors.

LFL: Absolutely, I would often find I was creating my own artwork by teaching, and spending all day making sort of through your demos that you'd come home and you'd be like, I made art. But as you know, around California things are expensive. So, finding a studio around here… oh, you might as well live in the studio. So that's one of the great things I know about being a professor or a high school teacher, sometimes you're allowed to create in those studios.

Marka: Well, life takes you on a journey that you don't expect.

LFL: Absolutely, you know, and I love that you've moved from tactile collage, and painting to the digital world too, because that just shows the progression of our current world. Like you said, in the past a lot of artists taught and worked, but now artists can be graphic designers and create their own artwork at the same time. It's another avenue that artwork can explore.