The Oya Arts
My Name is Karen Caldwell and I am a self-taught artist originally from North West London who specialises in creating black artwork. I am inspired by both the history of my heritage and my gender. Though I was born and raised in London, I spent much of my late 20s and early 30s living in Barbados. This eclectic experience has played a huge role in the development of my work. You are struck by how complex your identity becomes when you have your feet in both camps. Whenever I am in the UK, I feel distinctly Caribbean, to the point where I notice my difference on a daily basis. Yet, when I am in Barbados I feel surprisingly English against the backdrop of Barbadian(ness) that surrounds me. It’s a fascinating space to occupy, and it inspires my paintings.
My work explores the beauty and complexity of the African Diaspora and is inspired by the time I spend living between Barbados, the UK, and the USA. This blessing allows me to express the plurality of my identity through a postmodern lens.
My artwork delves, shifts, manipulates, interrogates and pushes the boundaries of identity in a post-modern world and examines how they relate to the African diaspora from a feminine perspective. I paint with a purposeful range of colours, which have all been specially chosen to represent certain elements of my ideologies.
In my work, I use an Afrofeminist lens to tell a story, raise awareness and create conversations about issues affecting the African Diaspora. Bright colors are abundant, as are beautiful black female leads, sometimes embodying strength, sometimes exhibiting vulnerability, and at times presenting the subtle middle ground where many see as a no go space for the black woman. Throughout my canvas, I hope to clearly and effectively convey her story in a variety of ways and across a range of topics.
Behind My colours
I paint with a purposeful range of colors, which have all been specially chosen to represent certain elements of my ideologies. Watch the video below to learn the story behind my work.
Art & Business
I have not always been an artist, in fact I am a sociologist and hold a MSC in Sociology and Race and Relations.
I have spent the last 20 years in the corporate world combining my discipline with artistic-based learning techniques to develop transformational business strategies for a wide range of organizations.
I specialize in artistic-based team-building activities, ranging from paint and prosecco nights to painting jigsaw workshops. I run a range of programs based on visual thinking strategies, and sketch noting for those interested in combining art into their organizational learning and development.
I run a range of art classes from pop up paint parties, to sip and paints to free online events. Check out the testimmonals below and click through to read more.
I have been lucky enough for my art to reach around the globe. My aim for he next few years is to turn this map Oya Orange !
So Who Is
Oya is one of the most power West African Goddesses (Orishas)
A Warrior-Queen, much of Oya’s power is rooted in the natural world; She is the Goddess of thunder, lightning, tornadoes, winds, rainstorms and hurricanes.A Fire Goddess, it is Oya who brings rapid change and aids us in both inner and outer transformation. Oya is the protectress of women and patron of feminine leadership. Fiercely loving, She is wildly unpredictable, passionate, fearless, sensual and independent.
My art just like Oya, is here to evoke challenge perceptions, stereotypes and promote self love and care.