Deniz Bodi

Deniz Bodi is an artist and researcher of Mongolian and Turkish ancestry. Her art explores the interface between spiritual and material worlds. Informed by Mongolian shamanism, her work is grounded in respect for nature and in recognition of the spirit of all living beings. Using magical and surreal imagery, Deniz hopes to invoke a sense of wonder and envision a world grounded in respect for all beings.

Photo of artist Deniz Bodi


What did you want to be when you were growing up? And when did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?
I always felt an affinity to drawing and painting, so much that my kindergarten teacher would have to rip my sketchbook away because I wouldn’t participate in class otherwise. I don’t think I ever had a particular moment where I realized I wanted to be an artist, it’s felt more like a process of coming home, going back to being that younger self with a sketchbook.

Are there any specific artists or movements that have influenced your work?
I’m inspired by traditional and contemporary art from Mongolia. There’s many interesting discussions and projects emerging from the region, especially with respect to issues around environmental stewardship and keeping our traditional culture alive.

How and where do you find inspiration on a regular basis?
I find inspiration mostly in nature and stories from my family and culture. Sometimes talking to elders or reading old folktales will spark my imagination. I feel that most of my work is in conversation with people and history, so I tend to do a lot of research or reading which informs the ideation process.

What does your process look like from ideation to completion?
It really depends. Sometimes my process is very grounded in research, where I’ll be exploring a particular theme or history in depth and suddenly feel the urge to express my findings visually. Other times, ideas and images emerge from my subconscious, usually regarding feelings or thoughts in need of processing.

What emotions or thoughts do you wish to spark in viewers?
I hope my work can spark a sense of wonder and calm. Inspired by Buddhist teachings that illustrate the transience of life, I hope my work invokes a sense of motion and flow.

How has your practice or style changed over time?
My practice has gotten less rigid, as I’ve stopped placing so many expectations on myself. Initially, I think I had a lot of junk in my brain about what “success” looks like or even what an “artist” is. After letting go of these rigid constructs, I’ve been able to more freely express myself. In a way, I hope to tell stories through my practice and I see that happening more seamlessly when I relinquish the need to control elements of the process.

What is a common misconception that people have about artists or the art world?
While the “art world” as it is practiced and constructed by institutions, is often inaccessible and out of touch with most people’s struggles, I think it’s a misconception to think of art as frivolous. We can’t forget the radical history and potential of art. Whether as education, inspiration, or solidarity-building, art is an essential tool through which artists can advance new visions of the world. Art allows us to conjure possibilities, and for that reason holds material power.