Corina Karstenberg (1967) was born in The Netherlands, near the Belgian border in Geleen hospital . She first learned to walk and talk in Stein, a small village nearby, and then her family moved to Heerlen, a former mining town. After obtaining her first qualification as a florist, she became a qualified carpenter and upholsterer. At 20 she started to study Restoration of Wood and Polychromy in the Brussels Academy of Visual Arts.
During her five years of studies, she started to read books by Simone Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Friederich Nietzsche, Gabriel García Márquez and many others. In the meantime she studied the basics of painting at the Art Academy in Leuven under the supervision of Pol Mariën. This period was very important for her later artistic development; for her last two years in Belgium, Corina worked as restorer of ethnographic art at the Royal Museum For Central Africa in Tervuren (Brussels). She worked closely with art dealers who specialised in African Art from the famous Place du Grand Sablon.
Her experiences in Belgium in the world of African Art made Corina decide to quit her job as a restorer and she started to study at the Radboud University in Nijmegen in The Netherlands. Her aim was to better understand what had happened to the people in Africa, and how they had come to be treated as objects. The first part of her study involved Religion, covering Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. After completing her bachelor, Corina continued at the Department of Arts and studied the History of Culture and Mentality (of Europe). In Swansea (Wales, 1999/2000) she wrote her final paper ’The history of the development of gender categories’. These two studies gave her renewed insights into how the world is influenced not only by Religion and the dominant Western Culture but also by binaries of gender, race and identity.
In the meantime, for nine years Corina worked as a volunteer for an anti-discrimination organisation based in her former home town of Heerlen. As a professional she also worked for the government, employed to advise and liaise around issues of sex trafficking, drug addiction, poverty, diversity and gender and sexuality. In general she feels fortunate in her life to have had the chance to look into many kitchens, and to be able to confront and imagine reality from many different points of views. This makes her feel a true citizen of the world. It was almost exactly twenty years ago that Corina painted her first portrait of a woman murdered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and gave it the telling title Potential Refugee.
Since that moment Corina became more and confident about her artwork, which she continued to develop in a natural way and according to her own particular style. Human Rights remains the core of her attachment through art and her life’s work to people all over the world, wherever there is a story to tell. In a way you can see her painting as being the work of a story teller that gives people a human face through the images she makes. In 2012 Corina’s first solo-exhibition was in Brussels, and the title: Aren’t We All Potential Refugees was a reminder of the continuity of her vision in spite of the passing of time.