Karatas-Ozturk - Devastation

Sena Karatas-Ozturk
College of Fine Arts - Art Education (PhD)


Sena Karatas-Ozturk, an artist, researcher, and graphic designer, navigates an artistic path intertwined with the transformative potential of art in society. Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Florida State University’s College of Fine Arts, she holds an MA in Art Education from the University of Alabama and Bachelor of Art Education from Istanbul Marmara University. At the core of Karatas-Ozturk’s creative exploration lies an unwavering focus on the profound impacts of climate-induced migration and warfare on individuals and their cultural heritage. The “Migrating Tower Series” serves as an artistic odyssey, encapsulating poignant narratives of human migration spurred by socio-environmental injustices. Beyond mere physical relocation, the artist believes such migration carries the weight of cultures, histories, and cherished landmarks, preserved solely within the memories of those displaced. In artist’s artworks, historical buildings, notably towers, play a pivotal role, symbolizing the essence of people’s lives and cultures forsaken due to forced migration. These structures stand as poignant representations of societal heritage and historical significance, compelling attention towards their preservation. She stresses that governments bear the responsibility to safeguard these cultural treasures, as they encapsulate the stories and identities of communities grappling with the impacts of climate-induced displacement.

The intricate nexus between climate change, migration, and heritage forms the thematic backbone of Karatas-Ozturk’s artistry. Climate change disrupts environments, uprooting histories and cultures, and directly imperiling the preservation of historical buildings. In the wake of migration, these structures stand vulnerable to neglect or calamity, prompting the artist’s outcry through artwork, advocating the urgent need to protect these invaluable remnants of human history. Transferring sketches onto textured canvases, the artist utilizes oil or acrylic paints in an abstract impressionist style to evoke the essence of these historical buildings. This medium choice aims to summon textures reminiscent of architectural structures, accentuating the intrinsic link between climate change and the erosion of historical heritage. Through brush and canvas, Karatas-Ozturk’s art ignites societal introspection, urging viewers to reconsider their relationship with heritage and the profound impact of climate change on historical landmarks. Her artwork stands as a resounding call to action, championing the protection and appreciation of cultural legacies amid the challenges posed by an ever-evolving world.

Artwork Description:

This painting encapsulates deep sadness, frustration, and disappointment after the recent earthquake in my hometown. The iconic Galata Tower symbolizes our past, present, and future. A small toy, representing a child victim of the 1999 Turkish earthquake, lies at the tower’s base, signifying the pain and loss of that period, urging caution for the future—a message overlooked. Now, in enduring more devastating earthquakes, our failure to heed history’s lessons amplifies our suffering. History and Science offer answers; we must listen and learn from our past to prevent further tragedy. Amidst the rubble, hope emerges like a fragile flower, reminding us of our resilience and the imperative of unity in rebuilding shattered lives and communities. We cannot ignore the lessons of our past, repeating the same mistakes and causing further loss and tragedy. 27”x27” acrylic painting on wooden plaque.