• Vidya Shyamsundar

Art & Belief


A few weeks ago, I listened to Oprah's Super Soul podcast of her interview with Dr. Deepak Chopra, and the topic was Belief Creates Reality. Dr. Chopra defines belief as "a thought that we hold true." We acquire beliefs by interpreting our past experiences. He explains that pure curiosity and wonder fill our minds as a child, but our thoughts get conditioned by the world around us as we grow older. We begin to separate ourselves from the beliefs that shaped our connections.


I began to wonder why I chose to paint mandalas. Why would a person like me, with a business background and no prior experience or interest in making art think about painting mandalas one fine day? Maybe it was a sign from the divine asking me to share my connection with the tradition of mandala making with the world. I felt good when I started painting them, but I stopped focusing on mandalas after the first six months of making them. I decided to explore different subject matters; however, my curiosity about painting mandalas continued.


What thoughts hindered my beliefs about pursuing mandala art?


  • Painting mandalas can lead to boredom because they are simple and ordinary.

  • Drawing or painting a mandala does not require artistic skills.

  • Mandala art cannot evoke emotions because they are simply symmetrical designs with a pop of colors.

  • Mandala art has no powerful presence, unlike land/urbanscapes, still life, or figurative art.

  • They are neither representational nor abstract.

  • People may associate a mandala with a culture-specific symbol that focuses on religion.

  • My mandala's precise and intricate painting style can be associated with craft rather than fine art. This thought stemmed from the comments I received from viewers who said: "your art looks like fabric - lace, quilt, or embroidery like."

  • Another thought that deeply affected me was when a viewer told me that the intricacy in my artwork drives him crazy.

I am deeply thankful to my coach, Teresa Haag for encouraging me to do this self-reflection exercise, which turned out to be a complete revelation.


How did I challenge these thoughts that deprived my beliefs about my artwork?


  • I have painted hundreds of mandalas, and I am on a journey to create more. There is no room for boredom.

  • Making mandalas is an innate desire influenced by my childhood experience, and they come naturally to me with bursting creativity and a unique style.

  • A mandala is a spiritual symbol and does not represent any religion.

  • I have stories about my life, connection, and relationship with mandala art.

  • I have a gift to share with the world. I must protect it and believe in it with no agenda or outcome.

  • Art is subjective. Hence, no matter the genre, every artist who creates work caters to a specific niche that connects with their work.

  • There is no hierarchy in art styles or subjects. Hence, a comparison is a waste of time and energy.

  • Many people appreciate my mandalas, and my works have found beautiful homes.

  • People will have opinions and interpretations about art. I must not let my beliefs sway based on peoples' views.

  • Mandalas evoke emotions in me. The abstract and the intuitive nature of making mandalas centers me, helping me evolve as a human. The intricate motif details, symmetry, and pops of colors call out the word "beauty" million times while I create them. The mediative process helps me dive deep into the meaning of spirituality and mindfulness.



Radiant Lotus, Acrylic on canvas, Vidya Shyamsundar 2021
Photo by: Michael Fleck

My subconscious mind knew that the external world influenced the doubts and judgments about my work. I knew that my experience with mandala making was not the result of watching YouTube, browsing the internet, social media, or coloring books. It's something that I was born to experience - something that is personal, deep-rooted, and meaningful, which ignites a spark in me that never want to leave.


I am back in my studio, embracing my curiosity to create a new body of artwork. I am keeping my mind open to see where my art leads me.


Peace & Namaste!


Vidya

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