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Sunanda Sahay - IndiArt Judge

Jharna Madan

Sunanda Sahay grew up in Darbhanga, the heart of the Madhubani region in northern India. The region, part of Mithila, lies near the border of India and Nepal and carries a rich pastel of cultural legacy in art and literature. Artistic interests led Sunanda to seek out practitioners of the art from local villages and learn directly from them. Now she practices and popularizes the art in the U.S.A. IndiArt is honored to have Sunanda Sahay as one of the judges.
1. Please tell us about your involvement with Art.
I practice a North Indian folk art called Mithila or more popularly as Madhubani painting which is a gift of my hometown to the world. I grew up with this painting, and its themes and I feel a vibrant intimacy with it.  That is why I paint this art in its purest form, without trying to introduce any element of modernity, so I can maintain it pure and unadulterated as it has been for centuries.
2. What does being 'creative' mean to you?
Creativity is a fundamental attribute of our souls.  Being creative means allowing the soul to communicate our deepest values and emotions in meaningful ways to those we care. 
3. Do you think art can be used to communicate a message to the society?
Definitely – art is a society’s primary vehicle for preserving and transmitting its deepest values.  It’s a reflection of a society’s primary aspirations too.  You can see good illustration of this in the art, literature and movies of a society.  For example, you can see that more Bollywood movies are produced on themes of individuality, achievement, and material pursuit than in the past.
4. Why did you decide to judge Ekal's IndiArt competition?
It’s appropriate that the Indian diaspora takes pride in its accomplishments in science and engineering.  However, once we have achieved basic financial and social security, we start seeking deeper fulfillment through creative arts and community bonding.   You can see this more clearly in our children.  I’m happy that Ekal has taken steps to fill that void, and is encouraging children to express their creative impulses.
5. Any piece of advice for our young artists? 
As a young artist, there is immense pressure to be influenced by the forms and styles of popular artists.  Since we live in a fragmented cultural landscape, those pressures are even more palpable.  My experience tells me that the audience can tell the difference between the authentic and the inauthentic.  In fact, I can go so far as to assert that the Americans have a hunger for traditional forms of arts that they are unfamiliar with.  So, my message for the artists is to remain true to their persuasions, and avoid worrying about the success of artists who are different from them.
6. In one line define art:… Art is…
Art is an stylized and harmonious expression of our soul’s deepest cravings and values.

The awards ceremony and auction of art work will be held on Sunday, May 3, 3 - 5pm at Academy of Creative Arts, Burlington, MA.

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