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Living and working as a street artist in Southeast London, Elena Cruz is an American-born painter and writer who places individual experiences within the context of social systems. Using humor and an analytical eye, she employs multiple layers of material and concept to depict humanity as embedded within — as well as having the power to shape — intangible political and economic surroundings. In doing so, she explores how the individual molds and reflects the grand societal makeup and vice versa. To do so, she publicly hangs her personal reflections as street art, playful in nature and disposable under time.


Cruz’s interest in the topics of politics, economics, and their social and environmental impacts find roots in her adolescence within a recession-marked household. Also experiencing the erasure of being of mixed CHamoru and white descent, she had little to no resources to explain her identity until she found the study of political economic structures. Through her access to education, she developed a lens to understand herself and how she came to be. Therefore, she expresses herself through the language of her art, while working to help others also forgotten within political economic decision-making.


For several years, Cruz worked as an arts journalist to support herself throughout undergrad. Following, she obtained a master’s degree in international political economy from King’s College London with the intention of becoming a reporter on the business of art. However, she realized she wanted to reiterate what she learned to help create change instead of writing about the art others make. She had oil painted for herself since she was 16 and wrote regularly since she was 3; all she needed was some courage to turn her passion for the arts into her career, which she launched one year ago.


Cruz’s work has been displayed as street art throughout Southeast London in areas such as: Peckham Rye Station, Queen’s Road Station, Rye Lane, the Bellenden Road Lidl billboard, and the boarded up Montague Arms. She has shown in Carnegie Hall, New York; Mall Galleries, London; AMP Studios, London; and is represented by Women In Art Gallery, Lewes.


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