Sena Karatas-Ozturk is an artist, researcher, and graphic designer with a strong interest in the transformative power of art in society. Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Florida State University's College of Fine Arts, the artist holds an MA degree in Art Education from the University of Alabama and a Bachelor of Art Education from Marmara University.
Karatas-Ozturk's portfolio showcases both artistic and academic achievements, including numerous national and international exhibitions as both a solo artist and as part of collective showcases. Simultaneously, her research focused on emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence and their profound potential within art education. She has garnered recognition through various awards and prizes, with her most recent accomplishments including the "Excellence in Art" award in 2022 from Florida State University and, notably, the "Art Educator of the Year" award in 2018 from the Alabama Art Education Association. The artist's artworks span different mediums, focusing on oil and acrylic paintings, and several art collectors and institutions have acquired her artworks.
"My artistic journey revolves around the profound impacts of climate change and war on individuals. Through my 'Migrating Tower Series,' I endeavor to capture the poignant narrative of human migration induced by these socio-environmental injustices. I firmly believe that when people are forced to migrate due to these crises, they carry with them more than mere belongings. They bear the weight of their cultures, histories, and cherished landmarks solely within their memories, unable to pack them into their luggage.
For years, my art has been a canvas for the silent stories of those affected by climate-induced displacement and war. Each stroke of my brush aims to shine a spotlight on the harsh realities faced by migrants who must leave behind the tangible remnants of their past lives. The series critiques governmental policies and societal indifference toward these critical issues with the heritage of societies, compelling viewers to confront the stark consequences of inaction.
From a broader perspective, the concept of heritage supports the themes in my artwork, including historical buildings, such as towers and castles, which reflect the society from when they were built to the current day by watching over the land and people. Every major city in the world seems to have a characteristic tower representing its historical background: the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben in London, the Tower of Pisa in Pisa, and the Galata Tower in Istanbul. I mainly use the Galata Tower as a reference in my paintings because of its aesthetic form and historical-societal role. For example, the Galata Tower, one of Istanbul's most famous historical towers, has witnessed many historical periods like the 507 AD Byzantine period, 1348 Genoese, 1453 Ottoman Empire, and 1923 Republic of Turkey. It has served different functions in the service of many civilizations, like a prison and a fire tower; however, due to a lack of funding, the people have no means to preserve or renovate it, which generally ends with a fire disaster or neglect.
After catastrophes, suddenly, there might be new investment projects in these areas, such as luxurious restaurants and hotels, leading me to wonder: Are all these catastrophes a coincidence? As world citizens, we have many problems with our historical structures, such as insufficient restoration, unusual use, and ridiculous colors. I deform the historical towers like simple objects and worthless toys by criticizing this insensitive attitude toward our historical heritage. With this critical style I adopt in my artworks, I aim to question the audience's adherence to their cultural, artistic, and historical heritage. While transferring my sketches to the textured canvas, I use oil or acrylic paint as an impressionist artist because I believe that using textured canvas and these painting mediums helps to obtain textures similar to reflect the spirit in the surface of architectural structures that are our historical heritage. Although I prefer to harmonize color, sometimes, a social issue like people's ignorance about heritage might inform a given color palette.