CONVERSATION WITH THE ARTIST

DESSISLAVA TERZIEVA

 
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Originally From: Sofia, Bulgaria
Currently Resides: Detroit, MI
Years working as an artist: Officially, since 2012


How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?

Internal reactions to external forces; reflections on myself and the world around me.


What mediums do you work in?

Collage, mixed-media painting, sculpture, installation, performance.


How did you get into collage as a medium?

I was pursuing my undergraduate degree as a Political Science major, and began to cut and paste my dad’s Time and National Geographic magazines. It was a way of conveying the information I was learning in the classroom, and expressing it without the need for words.


Your work often deals with identity, and dual identity more specifically, how did collage make it easier/harder to delve into this?

I love the quick and seamless ability to create visual analogies, metaphors, and juxtapositions through cut and paste collage. It allows me to communicate through a visual language in ways which are both obvious and cryptic.


Can you talk about your process?

It varies. Sometimes the idea/vision comes first, and then I execute it in the best-suited medium. Other times, I have an immediate reaction to seeing something, and act accordingly. The whole process is led by intuition and evolves organically.


How has it evolved or changed over the years?

It has evolved and expanded as I continue to explore new mediums and means of expression.


What are you currently inspired by?

For many years I have been intrigued by the process of turning trash into treasure. We live in a world of overproduction and overconsumption, constantly accumulating things we don’t need and dispose of shortly thereafter. I’m currently focusing in on the fashion industry, as it is one of the world’s leading polluters. I am excited by the idea of creating work which, beyond being aesthetically pleasing, is a form of activism and way to spread of awareness.


What is *Paid Actor?

*Paid Actor is the wearable extension of my fine art practice. It’s a sustainable art-meets-fashion clothing line in which I create wearable sculptures using pre-existing garments.


How do your collages, and your work more broadly, tie into *Paid Actor?

Every *Paid Actor piece is essentially a textile, wearable collage. My approach to this project is very similar to my found-object sculpture and collage work. I find and collect elements that I am drawn to, and eventually allow them to react and interact with one another, resulting in an entirely new object.


You’ve recently completed some artists residencies, can you tell us about where you were and what you were focusing on?

The most recent artist residency I did was in NYC this past winter. I had just returned from a three month trip to my motherland, Bulgaria, and the body of work that came from it was a reflection of my family’s journey to the US, and the nostalgia that comes with emigration.


How do you feel that splitting your time between the USA and Bulgaria influences your practice?

It creates a beautiful balance. Going back to Bulgaria grounds me in ways nothing else could. I consider it a ritual of ‘watering my roots in order to blossom into something new.’ I have been going back and forth annually for the past 22 years!

 

Fun Facts:

What is something many people don’t know about you?

Most people don’t know about my background in Political Science and Law.

What is currently your favorite:

Website: www.paid.actor

Work of Art:

Piece of advice: Travel! See the world and taste it’s many flavors.

Book: Anaïs Nin’s Diary Vol. 3

Artist: David Hammons (always)

Restaurant: Lady of the House


What else should we know about you and/or your work?

It is more about you than it is about me.