Sravanthi Juluri, 35, from Hyderabad, India is a varied visual artist whose main disciplines are stained glass and uses the technique of glass fusing, as well as this Sravanthi works with paints and large canvases. The stunning colours and enticing patterns of this artist’s work will vividly energise you. Having studied glass arts and stained glass techniques from the stained glass garden, Berkeley California and Glass fusing techniques from the Mountain View glass academy California. Sravanthi has been working as an artist for over a decade and believes it is important to create her art with the objective of connecting with others.
At ASLI we were excited to interview and feature Sravanthi’s beautiful work, especially as her art is used as a therapeutic tool in her own life and allows for others to heal through art. Here is our interview and Sravanthi’s powerful submission:
What motivated you to deal with your chosen submission subject?
The period when I was working with the submitted art work I was under a lot of trauma, the abuse and domestic violence that I was subjected to reflected through my works. These works were not just symbolic of my own life but also many other women and young girls whom I met during the process of a vicious legal battle. These works were narrating women and their battle for justice against crimes committed upon them.
What is your process when creating?
I like to narrate an experience, an emotion that we all can connect with. This work which I submitted has contained a lot of rage and unrest as this work not only talks about my own experience of pain experienced in a violent relationship but also the kind of injustices and crime women are subjected to. Lately there has been an increased rate of violence against women in my country of India, which has many political overtones. This has left a deep impact on me, perhaps because I have experienced this violence in my life too. At the end of finishing each art work I found that the entire process helped me let off a lot of steam, and that I was not alone in this battle. It worked as a catharsis.
Who are you influenced by within your artistic discipline?
I can say that I could relate with the works of Frida Kahlo.
Who inspires you in general?
I have always been inspired by emotions, or an experience that I connect with in many ways. I like to capture the energy that makes us surrender completely to an emotion.
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for…?
I have always been strong in campaign for women’s issues, especially in seeking out justice for women in distress; I have been actively involved in “rebuilding” lives. I also advocate animal rights and volunteer my time with them.
What do the statements “art saves lives” and “art creates change” mean to you?
“Art saves lives” has a literal meaning for me. During the time when I exhibited the submitted works I have seen many women and young girls, who are total strangers come up to me and open up about their own experiences with violence and sexual abuse. I have seen them gather inspiration and above all courage from what I was expressing through my work.
“Art creates change”. I believe art has the potential to convey strong social messages and bring about a positive change. It has the power to reach out to those in pain and heal in more ways than one.
Have your artistic and creative outlets saved your life in anyway and do you think your message within them could help create change in the world?
My work has always been a healing process. I connect to my work with a deep sense of spirituality, it has been a process of deep involvement of emotions…a sense of oneness and attachment, as I complete the work I find myself totally detached, like I am no longer affected by materialistic things around me and I am at peace with myself.
What are your present and future goals for your art?
Currently I am engrossed in re-creating experiences on canvas. A state of mind that is pure and devoid of all forms of hurt, I am portraying “oneness” of the body, mind and soul. I shall be showing these works on many international platforms soon.
The following question are about mental health:
Can you tell us about your own experiences with mental illness?
I had to deal with extreme stress levels at one point of life where the only comfort I felt was through the form of art.
How does your artistic /creative expression help you with your mental health?
My art helped me really understand who I was, it helped me stay calm and focussed through all the hardships I faced. It gave me a lot of self motivation and confidence.
Have you ever experienced being stigmatised or marginalised due to your mental health or have you seen this happen to someone else?
I have seen people from uneducated families stigmatising and marginalising people with mental illnesses. I suppose the lack of awareness in families who live in poverty and proper health care facilities have a certain stigma attached.
Do you think society and culture is accepting of people with mental illness?
Here in India where the rate of un-educated people is high, accepting a person with mental illnesses is difficult. To add on to that many people in their respective cultures consider it a taboo to be having a family member affected by mental illness as a curse. I feel there needs to be a strong awareness campaign, especially in places with socio-economically disadvantaged people.
How do you feel your Government in your country helps people with mental illness and could they do more?
I most certainly feel that health care is far behind in my country, more so ever with mental illnesses.
Have you ever had any creative therapies as part of your treatment, did it help?
I held a few camps as a “creative” healer for people under a lot of stress from their work/personal lives. The medium I used was stained glass where the process of breaking the glass, shaping and soldering it created a sense of calmness in my students.
Do you think artistic / creative expression can be used to help people with mental health problems?
Yes. When people are allowed to explore their inner feelings through their creativity it opens new possibilities of self exploration, helping them come to terms with themselves and also helps as a self help healing tool.
What made you want to get involved with ASLI’s MENTAL ILLNESS, HEALTH AND RECOVERY CAMPAIGN?
At the most critical part of my life, when I was going through a turbulent time when emotionally I needed a catharsis I found solace in my art. I have also seen a few other fellow artists finding the much needed comfort in times of distress through their work. This made me strongly feel a need to be a part of this campaign.
Everyone within ASLI is affected in some way by mental illness, with our MD having several chronic mental illnesses and other members either caring for or dealing with mental health issues. Would this make you think twice about working with ASLI? And does this make ASLI “less professional” in your opinion and if so why?
I think it is necessary for people to be sensitive towards people having or dealing with mental illnesses and should be sensitised and aware of the needs of such people. I think ASLI is capable of providing the right platform and working environment in this case. I certainly do not think this makes ASLI “less professional” but one notch up for providing opportunities for people who need the right support.
Are there any artists/creatives/performers which you admire, who suffer from mental illness that you feel use their work to discuss or highlight mental health?
Creative people do tend to suffer from many ups and downs but the passion with which they bounce back into work creating masterpieces is what inspires me.
Finally is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or your experiences?
My work has been a major source of healing in my life. I have never thought that these works could actually help women in distress to come out in the open about the abuse they have faced, and it has opened up a platform for women to raise their voice and say no to violence against women!
If you would like to find out more about Sravanthi follow this link:
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