Juanita Nidhindra, Executive Director, Sunder Foundation
What was the first time you experienced a work of visual art or a painting?
When I would see the “Night Sky” as a young girl. I was awestruck by the beauty and mystery of the universe and the way that the stars and constellations seem to sparkle and dance in the darkness. It instantly became a canvas of my emotions – my joy and enthusiasm sitting on a sense of calm and tranquility. It was a source of pure inspiration and delight along with wonder and mystery.
Little did I know that the same “night sky” would call upon me in a totally different way as I grew up and learned the theories of Copernicus and Galileo and the observations of modern astronomers and scientists, that revealed the secrets of the cosmos and gave us a deeper understanding of our place in the universe.
As a child, I would wait for the sun to set, to seek inspiration for a new painting – of a starry night with the stars dancing around the moon making shapes and patterns; and for the sun to rise – as I learnt a new chapter in science at school each day.
When did you first become interested in learning how to paint?
Honestly, I don’t know how to paint at all. But I love to play with paints – the colors & textures, the way red dances with yellow, the way a rainbow makes any composition cheerful, how black and white have the ability to make each other stand out!! How can one not be fascinated by all of that? That is all the art I know, nothing more.
But, to answer the question – “When did I first become interested in learning how to paint?” –
The thoughts that I experienced, watching the night sky or listening to my favorite songs from The Sound of Music needed expression. It came naturally to me – crayons on walls, creating patterns in the sand, drawing on the blackboard with chalk, drawing on the sidewalk with a brick or coal…
What inspires you in your work as a painter and as a scientist?
My fascination with mysteries and the unexplored. There is a quote that totally resonates with me – “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” So, when I see something mysterious, I want to unravel that like peeling an onion – just that some of these peels are of art and some of science.
What wisdom would you like to share with anyone aspiring to take up a visual arts form?
We all are gifted with some form of art. We all are gifted with some kind of creativity. We just need to explore it. Just be yourself and explore…
How do you feel your chosen art form has helped you with your mental wellness?
I am an engineer / scientist by education and profession working with technology, managing teams in a fast paced environment with deadlines looming over you while living in the hustle and bustle of a concrete jungle of world’s technology hubs. All of it, with the usual pressures of life – job stress, relationship needs, pollution, health issues, social media overdose, aging…
In that role I often rely on logic, analysis, and problem-solving skills. However, these skills alone do not always provide me with the emotional outlet, creative expression, healing and rejuvenation that I need to maintain my mental wellness. That’s where art forms come in.
By engaging in art, I can tap into my imagination, intuition, and emotions. Through art, I can explore the “mysterious”, the “joyful” and express myself in new ways and heal in the process. And it enriches me in my life and job / career as well – as creating art teaches me how to develop a keen attention to detail, precision, and accuracy.
Imagine a 2-hour zoom call with your team while solving a complex technical problem that challenges all your mental faculties and while you are simply loving it, you are terribly drained and tired. Then you notice that painting that is right beside you that you painted as a teenager, with its colors, shades and vibrance, that gives you a peek into pure nature and the “mysterious”!! That is an “Aha” moment for me and I smile!! These together – art and science complementing each other in me, within me… this is what I aspire for, and what gives me joy…
Call for Nominations
The Sunder Foundation Awards
These three awards were established to celebrate creativity, excellence and courage.
Science & Innovation
Award for milestones, discoveries and implementation in the advancement of mental wellness in the areas of science, academic research, technological invention and innovation.
Arts & Culture
Award for outstanding work and creativity in the support and celebration of mental wellness in the areas of cultural stewardship, visual, literary, music & performing arts.
Policy & Leadership
Award for visionaries in social initiatives, public awareness and action in the support of mental wellness in the areas of social development, governance, policy, leadership & humanities.