Embarking on a transformative journey that transcends borders and artistic landscapes, Carolina Amaya, born in Bogota, Colombia, in 1981, has emerged as a prominent contemporary artist now calling Berlin home. Making the decisive move to the German capital in 2016, Amaya has not only flourished but has also carved her niche as a dynamic force within the ever-evolving realm of contemporary art. From the heart of Berlin, where her studio serves as the epicenter of her creative endeavors, Amaya actively immerses herself in a tapestry of national and international projects and exhibitions. As her artistic voice resonates globally, she significantly contributes to shaping the discourse surrounding contemporary art. In this exclusive interview, we delve into the mind and artistry of Carolina Amaya, exploring the inspirations, challenges, and profound perspectives that define her captivating body of work.

Artist Carolina Amaya
Artist Carolina Amaya (Photo by Camila Ruiz)

1. Your concept of “Ancestral skins” involves breaking societal schemas. Could you elaborate on how your art engages with this transformation of societal beliefs?

I was raised in a wonderful, caring family who provided me with education, food, and important values. However, I also grew up with negative programming and body shame due to old-fashioned beliefs. Despite being surrounded by love, respect, comfort, and support, I also experienced control, self-sabotage, sensor sensuality, and a lack of knowledge about consent, and understanding of oneself due to religious teachings.

After reflecting on the many instances of violence that I’ve allowed due to old programming, I’ve come to realize that these are not my narratives. Colombia is still a sexist country, recently The Colombian Observatory of Femicides of Dynamic Report of Femicides Colombia, collected numbers in its database in 2023, documenting 525 cases. 

So this is still the reality, for thousands of women who probably cannot escape from this situation. I experienced 3 violent assaults, 1 sexual and two other physical violence. The big difference here is that I can choose to heal and move on. 

Our ancestors installed narratives that are simply impossible to follow. I am not merely a collection of my past experiences or my ancestors’ teachings. I am constantly striving to be a better human by holding onto the things that truly matter. 

With this realization, I began doing deep research, seeking guidance from Masters like God, Buddha, Jesus, Hermes, and even my parents. I also drew inspiration from my coach Jalily and my closest friends Yen, Fabito, Frank, Matte, Evan, Charlotte, and the alchemists. And let me tell you, this journey of self-discovery has been nothing short of exhilarating! Now, I’m excited to share my newfound knowledge with the world and inspire others to embrace their true selves.

This is part of the story behind my body of work, especially Ancestral skins. This transformation and RE-generation of the one self-transmitted into the space.

Zimmerfreiheit -Interactive installation 50 MT2. Mixed media Aerosol, acrylic, fabrics, furniture, light
Zimmerfreiheit – Interactive installation 50 MT2. Mixed media Aerosol, acrylic, fabrics, furniture, light – Show & Gallery: Zwitschermaschine Galerie, Berlin / Germany 2018 – Curated by Denis Leo Hegic / Michelle Houston – Supported by Jasa Osa & YAPPics by Michail Jahn

2. Your artwork seems to bridge the gap between structured forms and total freedom. How do you strike a balance between these seemingly opposing concepts in your creative process?

I feel that the act of being present at the moment will be more important than ever before. My artistic process is the act of transferring this continuous beautiful and unique presence into the physical medium. Every piece I create is a result of this careful research and a lot of reflection. However, during the moments of creation,  past and future cease to exist and my body, mind, and soul are just totally immersed in the present. With every stroke of charcoal or pencil, I breathe life into seconds or minutes and allow myself to feel the magic of the moment, this feels very satisfying, and enjoyable. 

3. Your use of various mediums, from installations to photography, showcases a diverse artistic range. How do you select the medium for each project, and how does it contribute to conveying your message?

I recently discovered that one effective way to maintain innovation is through RE-generation. This applies to both nature and humans, so every new idea needs its physical medium to convey the underlying concept. I am a very curious person who enjoys learning, combining ideas, and taking risks. Even though I sometimes don’t know how a material will behave, I trust my inner voice and start experimenting. I write about the process and reflect on it to learn from my mistakes and improve my methods.

After so many materials that I have worked with, I came back to primitive but not easy materials like earth, water, recycling paper, and charcoal. Also because of environmental awareness, it’s FUNDAMENTAL to go into organic materials or materials collected from nature. I come from a country where NATURE is our language even though we belong to this capitalist system I want to take steps toward the usage of eco-friendly materials. For me is a must. 

Natives of Happiness mural N.2 (2,60 x 3,10 M mixed media on wood 2022 France)
Natives of Happiness mural N.2 (2,60 x 3,10 M mixed media on wood 2022 France)

4. In your exploration of sensuality and desires, what role do you see art playing in fostering discussions around these intimate subjects?

Art is playing an important role in the current transformation of the world. It is creating awareness by using literature, AI, research, philosophy, and sensorial experiences. Through these forces, sensuality and desires are now expressed openly, which is leading to dialogues and confrontations. Sensuality has surpassed sexuality and has become a new way to experience the world through food, senses, self-awareness, compassion, joy, pleasure, consent, respect, and acceptance. This transformation can only happen from within societies, and it is a significant step for humanity. This is a moment of regeneration.

5. Your journey from Colombia to Berlin seems significant in your artistic evolution. How has the change in environment influenced your creative vision and the themes you explore in your work?

This is a very simple and very complex answer; As a human, I was born in Colombia and as an artist, I was RE-born in Berlin. 

Berlin is the city where most of these topics are already outside the box. They confront your experience in life. I was searching for a galley when I moved to Berlin, but instead, I found a beautiful, vulnerable, compassionate, and strong version of myself. This was a huge opportunity as a human, Berlin is a transformative environment, is not an easy city but with resilience and discipline you can transform yourself self, and therefore your work will change drastically. 

Making art is one aspect of my life, I identify myself with my work, but first, the human and divine self for me, must live together in peace. If you are too much in the past or the future, you will suffer. Berlin is the city of the NOW moment. If you are not open to change, don´t come to Berlin.

From the inside Serie N. 1 (150 x 90 cms - Chuncky charcoal on Fabriano paper 320 gr.)
From the inside Serie N. 1 (150 x 90 cms – Chuncky charcoal on Fabriano paper 320 gr.)

6. The idea of “leaving behind old programming” and transforming oneself is powerful. How does this personal transformation resonate within your artistic evolution and the evolution of your style?

I started therapy with my coach, Jalily Covezdy, who is a philosopher and professor specializing in human conflict, 10 years ago. Through him, I learned that most of the stories I believed in don’t belong to me anymore. I can choose to change them and be aware of where my suffering is coming from. By doing this, I can solve my challenges faster and with less drama, but it will take time, effort, and an open mind to allow this transformation to happen without pushing too hard. This transformation doesn’t have to be a hard job. It’s quite the opposite. The hard part is allowing awareness to be your new partner because you deserve it.

As I transform myself, so do the concepts I use, selecting materials and techniques that carry meaning, working within the diaspora that holds intimate connections to my homeland, heritage, and Berlin.

When unhappiness knocks on the door you may ask where is this coming from? Could it be that the narrative that I have created around this particular situation rather than the situation is causing the unhappiness? mmm yes, is possible.

7. Your involvement in urban interventions across different cities adds a unique dimension to your art. How does the public space influence your creative expression differently from the gallery space?

Old programming as an example is thinking that an artist who works in a mural can’t be contemporary or fine as well. So I challenged this old societal behavior, and now I’m conscious of it. But in the beginning, 8 years ago it was just for me the possibility to experiment in large-scale formats. And there is nothing more enjoyable than to be in a large-scale drawing, mural, or installation. The space and time are tools as well. My expression feels more fluent in the physical space than in small bidimensional formats. 

The public space presents a unique challenge for artists, with unpredictable weather, the need to source materials, and constant interactions with people. However, it is precisely this raw and dynamic environment that can inspire and invigorate the creative process. By embracing vulnerability and the unpredictability of the streets, I can harness the energy of the public space to create truly transformative works. Different from the gallery where you most of the time showcase your final artwork, where you prepare the space before visitors arrive, unless you present a performance. It is also fascinating, is just different. I love the white cube also, actually most of my exhibitions in galleries yes, or yes required the creation of murals or wall interventions. Is a must for me. 

Eros memory N. 1 (Digital painting printed on chroma luxe HD - 50 x 70 cm)
Eros memory N. 1 (Digital painting printed on chroma luxe HD – 50 x 70 cm)

8. You’ve spoken about turning emotions like fear and shame into empowering strength. How does this emotional alchemy find its way into your artwork, and how do you hope it resonates with your audience?

I truly love the word “alchemy” indeed this is the correct approach. Being able to transform fear into confidence is magical. When in 2016 I started with the series “ From the Inside” they were drawings coming from anger; this was an inner essence, a carnal feeling with no awareness. The inner is “life in essence”. Of course transmitted to the physical paper. 

Meanwhile, the project “Ancestral Skins” which is also a concept for me, was the expression of the outer which is “expression life”, because it was the revelation of the inner transformation. 

Both approaches are powerful in their own way. However, it is always a challenge to engage with my audience. Ever since I started speaking my truth and being more open about sensuality, consent, and therapy, I have noticed different reactions from my Instagram audience. For some of them, it was simply too much. I understand I make art mostly for the feeling of freedom and innovation, not to please anyone. 

For others, the connection is stronger because somehow my work mirrors their fears and or strengths. This is fascinating. Remember the sentence “The darkness is your divinity”. 

The inner and outer are only two “moments” of the same fact. The inner is inner only since it finds some external expression in the outer, while the outer is outer only since it is the expression of some internality. 

9. Could you walk us through a specific piece or project that was particularly challenging or transformative for you as an artist?

I find the biggest challenges to be the most interesting part of creating art. It’s not always fun and easy, despite what some people may think. But overcoming those obstacles is what makes the result so rewarding.

This is my list of challenges, and I’m open to share with you. 

  • speak your truth. 
  • Research as much as you produce. There is no good art without intellectual and spiritual wisdom. 
  • Try, try, try, again, again and again. 
  • It is enough that you believe in your work, but you need a group of people curators, colleagues, mentors, gallerists, and journalists, who also believe in and support your work. 
  • Innovate and Re-generate your life, this will change your work. 
  • Learn to say yes! And no. 
  • Clarify your boundaries. 
  • Low downfalls and expectations. 
  • Study and read a lot. 
  • Be in the moment to be present. It’s highly important to produce art. You can’t live in the past or in the future. That’s bullshit. 
  • Find parallel jobs hopefully with something related to your work as an artist. 
  • Don’t give up. 
  • Every time good news comes to your life, hug yourself. 
  • Assist to residencies. 
  • Apply for open calls. 
  • Breathe. 
  • I don’t use drugs, don’t smoke anything, and don’t drink alcohol. I enjoy being aware and more myself. 
Abandoned Symphony N.4 (Mixed media Aerosol, acrylic, fabrics, metal)
Abandoned Symphony N.4 (Mixed media Aerosol, acrylic, fabrics, metal)

10. As a speaker covering diverse topics like personal development, healing, and spirituality, how do these themes intersect with your artistic process, and how do they inform your artistry?

I always thought that achieving a more sustainable and compassionate world was the job of politicians. Simply is and it will not happen. I realized only through my transformation I could be better and transport this message to others. 

Have you asked yourself why the world is in this difficult and problematic moment? I feel because the light is also getting stronger and every day more and more humans are becoming more conscious and aware! This means massive consciousness is being enlightened by transformation. Slowly more people are reprogramming themselves. This is a huge moment to witness and express it! 

To live a better quality of life, it is important to cultivate the muscle of PRESENCE POWER within you. This means being able to recognize and let go of negative and unproductive thoughts and to be fully present in the current situation without adding unnecessary suffering through your thoughts.

Enlightenment is the full potential of all human beings. This is the Re-generation era.

Thank you Carolina Amaya for taking the time to answer our questions.

All images © by Carolina Amaya. For those of you looking for more artists from around the globe, feel free to browse through the Art section on WE AND THE COLOR.

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