Hello everyone, my name is Jasmina Cazacu aka Diosa. I am a Romanian born, Chicago based illustrator, muralist, and mixed media artist.
When did you first start getting into art?
As a teenager, I was running around with a few of the graffiti writers in my neighborhood. I would say that was my first real exposure to art. I quickly fell in love with the idea of a tool that could be used to create a new world and to express my ideas with. I was very drawn to the notion of being able to create something bigger than myself, both literally and figuratively.
While you didn’t go to college to study Art, I saw that you were able to work under Grigor Eftimov at Atelier Eftimov. How was that experience?
Very intense! Grigor provides rigorous classical training in representational drawing and painting and expects nothing short of excellence from those who study with him. There are only about 6-10 students at a time. All of which are very serious and dedicated to the craft. It’s a community that I was really able to grow and thrive in because of how invested everybody around me was. Most of my life people had been telling me all the ways in which the art thing wasn’t going to work out. Being in that space was the first time I felt surrounded by people that believed in me as an artist.
You introduced yourself by your other name Diosa. What does Diosa represent to you?
The name stems from my cultural and graffiti background. It symbolizes a lot for my current work. Diosa is Spanish for Goddess (for anyone who may not know). I am Romanian born and when I came to the states at 8 years of age, I didn’t speak any english at all. I was brought into a Latino community. Being Latin based, Spanish was actually easier for me to understand and the culture itself was much like my own overall, which I think made the transition here much easier on me. I came into the name Diosa when I started to think about the community that brought me up and what Art gave me and made me feel, which was ultimately strength and empowerment. I wanted to sign my work with something that fully encompassed and paid homage to that.
Throughout your work, I see that femininity is a theme that is prevalent…
One of the predominant ways that I explore the idea of femininity is in relationship to female sexuality, which society often attempts to regulate and control via means such as legislation, media, stigma, etc. I want to paint characters that have seized control of their sexualities and are empowered by their decision to express themselves as they deem fit. The women depicted in my work define themselves, they are not the culture’s idea of what they “should” be. Because my subjects are often sex workers by profession and appear in provocative and highly sexualized manners that appeal to the male gaze, the issue of sexual objectification has been brought up in critique of my work. However, the idea that women’s sexuality and the bold expression of it is innately an oppressed role, is just ridiculous to me! Furthermore, the issue at stake with feminine sexual presentation is not essentially a question of expression, but rather a question of authority over expression. My work aims to establish a female authority over female sexuality.
I think we need to broaden our definition of the empowered woman to be more inclusive because she can manifest as anything. An empowered woman can manifest as a CEO, or a stay at home mom, or a sex worker, or anything she pleases! I want to highlight that diversity and show that it’s ultimately about ensuring women have the freedom, choice, and agency to lead full lives.
Let’s get into a few meanings behind some of your pieces. First, let’s start with “Reverie”
It was something I gave myself as an assignment. I was thinking a lot about line and form at the time and I wanted to see how far I can push those elements in a funky way. I decided to take four different types of line and integrate them to create a composition.
Black Girl Magic
That was spoken word artist Kwynn Riley, I met her at one of her performances and I was completely taken away by how she controlled the room with her presence and art. I introduced myself to her afterwards and she agreed to pose for me. I decided to call it “Black Girl Magic” because she is a creative and powerful black woman with undeniable beauty and talent.
As an artist, we are constantly pushing ourselves to be better every day. What are some goals you want to accomplish by end of the year?
As an artist, I want to create more freely. I often overthink my projects and I believe it can hold me back at times. The artists that I truly respect are always at it, they’re the ones sketching on napkins at the bar or painting with ketchup if thats all thats around. That’s definitely something I want to integrate into my work. I want to allow myself to let go and explore new things uninhibitedly.
I also need to get out there more. I’m a recluse, I like to hide in my studio, but I need to leave my comfort zone and really start being more involved in the community.
Describe your art in three words
5 for 5 favorites
Favorite thing about being an artist
I get a free pass on my weirdness because it’s ‘artsy’.
Favorite artist of yours
I can’t pick just one! Here are some of my favorites right now in no order.
- Michael Hussar
- Soey Milk
- Camille Rose Garcia
- Shawn Dickinson
Favorite piece you’ve ever created
I would say “Classy” is my favorite piece right now. I think it’s my most advanced piece and I feel like it’s the truest to who I am as an artist.
Favorite lesson you’ve learned over the years
I’ve learned that progression isn’t always going to be linear. I get so caught up in whether I’m doing the “right thing” or worrying about if it’s going to work out the way I want it to and you know what, sometimes it might not, and that’s ok. Failures are not the end of the road, they’re opportunities for growth. There’s no blueprint for this, if you’ve dedicated to a creative lifestyle, you just need to trust that your path will illuminate itself in the process.
First one that comes to mind is by Charles Bukowski, “Find what you love and let it kill you.” I think that pretty much encompasses my relationship with my work.