Directly off West Spring Valley Road sits the Goldmark Cultural Center. The former office space features splashes of red, green, yellow, and pink around skinny windows. Inside, Roma Osowo paints.
On her all-white studio’s wall, six paintings hang. She’s working on two of them. In the background, Frank Edwards, a Nigerian gospel musician, plays softly. Osowo sings along, mining for inspiration and posturing a sense of faith and prayer.
A native of the British Virgin Islands, Osowo, 42, considers herself a faith-based artist. To the untrained eye, her abstract art may look like a collection of random colors and brush strokes. For Osowo, the placement of a brush stroke, or the severity of a shade of color is a story and prayer in itself. “My art is a reflection of my faith,” she says.
She dips her brush in the assortment of colors on the working desk and steps back to look at the brightly rendered painting. “Yes, yes,” she says while moving forward to make a small stroke near the left edge of the canvas. She the retreats 10 feet to look at the work she has done.
Her method is unconventional. Borderline chaos. But it works.
During a recent D Magazine visit to her studio, Osowo showed off a series of projects, including pieces for Goldmark’s November Art Walk. However, she hasn’t quite grasped her last achievement: selling her colorful abstract art in Target.
Available in select stores and online since early September, Osowo’s art landed in the big-box chain through a diversity initiative meant to highlight artists from different cultures and large-scale representation. Her 18-piece collection includes vibrant abstract canvases featuring dots, florals, squiggles, and more. Many of her pieces have already sold out online, but each has a meaning. Take her “Broken to Beauty” canvas. She originally painted the piece for a friend and client whose daughter delt with addiction. But the painting’s fragmented gray, green, blue, and pink strokes hint at the subtle blessings of transformation through difficulty.
“I’ve just been on a mission to evoke joy and meaning through abstract art,” she says. “What I want to evoke in my work is all reflected in my color choices.”
She has been painting professionally for five years, but, in reality, Osowo’s been creating art her entire life. Her love of color has its roots in Osowo’s culture on the Virgin Islands, she says. As a child, she painted what many artists painted—scenes. She loved recreating the ocean and beach. It required various hues of blues and turquoise that spoke to the young artist. She also loved using the pinks and burgundies of her primary school uniform. Over time, she garnered an intense appreciation of the expressiveness that color provided. “The vibrancy of the colors is very much ingrained in me,” she says. Even now, the colors she chooses for her abstract stem back to her childhood. Using those deep blues and rich colors allow her to feel as though she was playing in the waters of her home country, she says.
Osowo and her husband immigrated to the US in 2004, moving to Dallas in 2011. Osowo says the move led her away from her love of painting for years while they were trying to survive and adapt to a new culture. She worked in marketing then took time off to have children. But as she found her footing in her new country, she also found her way back to painting. She formally declared herself an artist in 2017, and since her abstract work has grown in popularity. Before the Target collection, her work could be found in HomeGoods and TJ Maxx stores and online.
“My goal was to see my work on products. Not just art,” Osowo says. “[I want] to have art that is livable, that you can enjoy in different ways.”
While her goals, career trajectory, and technical process might be considered unconventional in some circles, Osowo’s approach works for her. Her use of color and abstract strokes allow her to connect with her past and her clients. Her professional career’s late start was worth the wait, she says. It taught her patience and perseverance. And it also assured her of a sense of belief in her faith and art—and to take a chance on herself.
“I am a risk taker,” she says with a smile while mixing red paint to add to a canvas already chalked full of color. “To be a strong painter, it requires risk.”
Osowo’s paintings are available in select Target stores through December 4 and are available online through September 4, 2023.