Julie Carroll, a volunteer at Open Hearts, interviewed Oshin about her life, her creative process, and her upcoming art opening on Feb. 10. We love this insightful article she wrote!

Oshin’s thick, curly hair bounces in curls and frames a warm, wide smile that opens up her face, letting escape a vibrant spirit. Her dark, friendly eyes shine with wonder as she soaks in the world around her, and like many artists, she seems to be unaware of the true beauty of her gifts. “Who told you I was a good artist!?” she asked upon our first meeting. I told her that “Debbie, from your program” told me so and raved about her work. She looked me up and down, unsure, but with a giant smile that betrayed her skepticism, and invited me into her home.

I learned that Oshin (pronounced “Oh-sheen”) was born in 1994 and called Jamaica home for the first 16 years of her life. She was born and raised in Westmoreland Parish, in the south-westernmost corner of the island country. When her mother, Maureen, left the country in 2008 to come to work in the United States, Oshin remained and was cared for by her auntie and grandmother until 2011, when she came to Asheville to join her mother.

Oshin sings and dances and is a big movie fan, too. She’s inclined to hip-hop and pop music, with an even stronger bias toward the fierce ladies, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, and another talented, vibrant Caribbean beauty…Rhianna. She indulges her movie habit by watching “anything on Netflix” from the comfort of her mother’s bed, where she sometimes hides from her mom, her giggles giving her away.

Creatively, Oshin relies on her curiosity to lead her. Inspired to find a “Mexican giraffe,” Oshin asked the all-knowing Siri a question, and voila! She was led to an image of a giraffe in the Sonora province of Mexico, painted her likeness, and named her “Tina.” In fact, Oshin names all of her paintings, a testimony to connection she has with her work. There’s “Tina,” and “Gina,” and “Elvis,” and “Michelle”…the list goes on and on. Like the “Mexican giraffe,” Oshin bases her paintings from images she finds online or from classically renowned paintings she sees in art books. She uses her own creative license and imagination to recreate the paintings through her unique perception, giving the images a vibrant rebirth, rife with color, rhythm, and pattern.

Maureen instilled a strong work ethic in all of her children. Oshin’s older sister, Opal, is a doctor, and younger brother, Sbemm, will soon graduate from NC Wesleyan. Oshin, herself, is a dedicated artist, spending most of her days at Open Hearts Art Center. Her prolific artwork has been featured in a multitude of local shows over the years she’s attended the program, and her work was even selected for an international exhibition in Cork, Ireland in 2016, entitled “Perceptions: The Art of Citizenship.”

At the studio, she draws, paints, and sews, especially enjoying the company of her friends, Sidney and Devin, artists themselves and employees at Open Hearts. She crafts blankets and pillows that are given to friends or to friends of friends. In fact, she gives away or sells most of her work. But every now and then, there’s a piece she can’t bare to get rid of. Pablo Picasso once said that “painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” I suppose some of the best parts of ourselves, our art, must be kept close. Personally, I’ve got my eye on “Tina;” I hope she doesn’t keep that for herself.