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Elma Čavčić - Stick To The Things You Love and Results Will Come

The topics that you can most often find in the works of Elma Čavčić are war, political power and her false brilliance. Her work shows various elements related to these topics such as weapons, soldiers, planes and flags. These topics fascinated Elma both as a child and as she grew up, which led her to present and explore through artistic work while studying at the Academy of Fine Arts (HKU) in the Netherlands. The starting point of the work was the stories of her parents, which she tried to present through artwork in paintings and ceramic sculptures.

as stated in Elma's biography.

As for the first one, could you tell us something about your background?

I was born in Žepa, Bosnia and Herzegovina. During my childhood I've heard several stories about the war, but I never really paid attention until I was 13. During my puberty I got really interested in it and decided to do more research online. Since the topic is a sensitive one to talk about, I never asked direct questions to my parents. I gathered all the from the past and my own experiences when in Bosnia. During my study at the University of Art in Utrecht (HKU) I tried to convert the stories in abstract figurative paintings. At my graduation show in 2017 I showed 4 paintings in which I tell my mother’s story. My parents didn’t know I used their story until then. Currently I am still working as an artist and art teacher at a middle school and the academy.

You're currently in Netherlands? How well does your art voice get recognized and accepted?

The art scene in the Netherlands is super small. So, a lot of people know each other. So far, my work has exhibited quite often here in the Netherlands. People are interested in story due the combined history in Srebrenica. This year I also heard I will receive a big support from Mondrian Fund an art fund in the Netherlands. So the Balkan narrative is well presented here.

Ceramic sculptures is one of the ways you communicate your message. Is there a certain process, a unique method, behind developing the sculpture?

The ceramic works are based on a summer school I did at ‘The Fifth Season’ a psychiatric institution. We had several lectures from people from the psychiatric field. One thing that sticked to me was the sentence ‘We are coaches for life’. I immediately had a vision of a soccer coach who times everything you do in life. This was a start for the medallions and award series. It was a critical note to the social performance that is present to this day. Nowadays my ceramics are an extended piece of my paintings. A lot of shapes and colors reflect the artworks.

Any favorite latest collaborations holding place?

Currently I am working with Jovana Stulic on an exhibition about the diaspora live in the Netherlands. We met 3 years ago at 'This Art Fair' in Amsterdam. We met up last year and discussed about a possibility of making an exhibition together. Our first goal was making a exhibition with our own works, now we have a full first duo solo. We worked for a year together on the upcoming exhibition in H47 in Leeuwarden called 'Ljubavni Sudar'. The exhibition is sadly postponed due the new lockdown announcement. We hope we can open up after the 14th of January

What is your vision when it comes to developing your art career?

My personal life motto is actually ‘fake it till you make it’ (laugh) But besides that, it just to push further and have patience with your progress. Sometimes you need a few more years for people get to know your artwork and to understand where it comes from. If you have found a topic you like stick to it even though you may not get noticed in the beginning. In the end it will somehow work out. My topic is often received as heavy and people are sometimes awkward about the fact they don’t know about the things that happen on the Balkans in the 90’s. Still it doesn’t stop me to make art about it.

Author: Hana Tiro

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