Defne Tesal was awarded the Scholar of Visual Arts Summer Residency Grant in 2015 for her work in fiber art, contemporary embroidery, and painting and animation. Tesal’s artwork has been published in numerous periodicals, including La Depesche, Normandie, and a book titled: “Art Book” by Alizee Bayssat. She has also been a part of group exhibitions since 2006, and her solo exhibitions started in 2013. She is currently working at an art collective in Istanbul, Turkey before starting her Master’s Degree of Fine Arts in Holland later this year. As part of her artistic statement to the SVA she wrote: “I’m trying to find a way to express both wild excitement and calmness. The opposite feelings of high and low, at the same time. Giving the hypothetical person in front of me, a feeling of great joy, liberation and liveliness but also stillness and peace. In search of this, I sometimes move to more monochrome a minimal state of mind. On the other hand, sometimes I go to an extremely expressive state and the color becomes the most important aspect of my work.”
The interview with Defne Tesal
1. How did you hear about the School of Visual Arts (SVA) scholarship program?
First, I heard about the American Turkish Society’s Moon and Stars project grants from my aunt. When I looked into it I learned about the summer residency programs of SVA and decided to apply for the scholarship.
2. Can you tell us what kind of projects you were working on at SVA?
I worked on several different pieces during my residency at SVA. They were mostly textile and fiber-based three-dimensional works. I explored new materials, and also started working on site-specific works.
3. How did the scholarship program and your time in New York City improve your career?
The program opened up my mind. Working closely together with other artists helped me to share and discuss both my works and others. Getting intense critiques from several teachers and artists was very helpful for me to explore myself and my works. Being in New York City during this very concentrated period added a lot to my work. The diversity of people and lifestyles, the art scene, the young and energetic feeling, the grid system of buildings and streets, all of these pieces of life really influenced my work.
4. Can you tell us about your current career work or what you are doing with artwork these days?
Since the program, I have been working on different projects. I work on site-specific installations, drawings, and weavings. I spend three months in an artist residency in Finland. I am in a new artist collective based in Istanbul, and lastly, I’m starting my master’s degree in Fine Arts in Netherlands this year.