The Heroine’s Journey of Erin Burley

What is the best thing that I love about my work? The best thing I love about my work is that it is completely cathartic. It feels damned good to fling paint about and mess about with intense pigments. I get to take my experiences and distill them into material for my art.
What is my idea of perfect happiness? My idea of perfect happiness would just be a quiet, dignified, creative life. I had some upsets and an excess of misfortunes due to an opiate addiction, most severely during my post high school years. So now, happiness is a very realistic, tangible, simple concept. When a person has the disease of addiction, just living a decent life is an enormous, unfathomable victory. It’s a savage and unforgiving disease.
What is my greatest fear? My greatest fear is dying in the way I, and anyone in America right now, is statistically most likely to die — by an opiate overdose.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? I don’t like it at all when I hurt people’s feelings. I try very hard not to, and when I realize that I have it is intensely unpleasant and it occurs to me I should not ever be cruel, because I am very bad at it and it makes me suffer.
Which living persons in my profession do i most admire? The living person in my profession I most admire is Yayoi Kusama.
What is my greatest extravagance?  My greatest extravagance is absolutely expensive oil pastels (Sennelier oil pastels, the jumbo ones, have captured my heart. Oilsticks as well. I adore them and they are so expensive.
On what occasion would I lie?  I would lie to avoid causing a person pain, if it was not a major matter.
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? The thing I dislike the most in my work is that it can be an annoyance to others, the mess. When I studied large scale drawing at Mass Art, for example, my room mates complained it was like living with a coal miner, because I left black charcoal finger prints everywhere. I leave a trail of crushed pastel and oilstick smears and regular gel adhesive and fragments of paper every where, it’s terrible. Not to me. I love it.  But it seems to cause others some irritation
When and where was I the happiest, in my work? Right now, right here. This is my zenith. This is my peak. I was Terrible at being young, truly. I went to jail. I was a mess. I’m so much more together now, so much stronger than I used to be. The most minor things used to wreck me, emotionally. Roadkill. I’d get emotional over roadkill. I had to find a way to Carry that without it crushing me
If I could, what would I change about myself? I would want to be a person who did not have the disease of addiction, because it makes me so much more likely to die
What is my greatest achievement in work? My greatest achievement in my work was when I had two large drawings in a group show at Metropolis Collective in Mechanicsburg, PA, and a local newspaper compared my art to that of Frida Kahlo and Edvard Munch. I’ve never felt so honored.
Where would I most like to live? I would most like to live in Europe, away from America and all its evil karma.  Someplace with less blood on its collective hands. But I am on methadone. So I must be realistic. I am a bird with clipped wings so to speak.
What is my most treasured possession? My most treasured possession is my oil pastel and oilstick stash right now, I’d have to say.
What is my most marked characteristic? My most marked characteristic is all the tattoos I have
What is my most inspirational location, in my city? The Philadelphia Art Museum, for sure
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? Tattooed Mom’s, in South Street, or at New Harmony, vegan Chinese food.
What books influenced my life and how?Journey to the end of the Night, by Celine, for showing me the sorrow of the world our lady of the flowers by Genet for showing me that good books can be written even in prison, Jesus’ Son by Dennis Johnson and Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin for breaking my heart in two and letting the light in
Bukowski for showing me the power of the outsider
Who are my favorite writers? Arthur Rimbaud. Bukowski.  Genet. Celine.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? 
Really good old blues music. You Got To Die by Blind Willie McTell and Crossroad Blues by Robert Johnson and Leadbelly’s last sessions
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Darling Daintyfoot from Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? People who live with the disease of addiction and those who had my disease and dies too damn young
Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime? Satyricon by Fellini
What role plays art in my life and work? It’s everything. It’s why I get out of bed in the morning. It’s my reason to suck air.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? Grace Schauer, who one day will do me the honor of being my bride
Whom would I like to work with in 2018? Jane Gilday, Kendrick Lamar, and Anselm Keifer.
Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2018? Yasoi Kusama, Anselm Keifer, Starr Cline, and the ghost of Jean Michel Basquiat
What project, in 2018, am I looking forward to work on? I want to have a solo show, a visual representation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead
Where can you see me or my work in 2018? Facebook, Instagram, Metropolis Collective, and my studio in Gloucester Twp, NJ
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? If we don’t dream we die
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Jane Gilday, Natalie Ryan Cole, and Caridad Cisernos.
How can you contact me? My Facebook is Erin Burley and Art By Erin Burley, my Instagram is art_by_erin_burley and my email is

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