Sujatha Balasundaram : I grew up in India (lived in New Delhi for a couple of years and spent most of my life in Chennai). As a family, my dads line of business took us overseas to Malaysia for 3 or so years. The exposure to a different culture definitely influenced us as a family. I loved the arts and crafts even as a child, I guess I got that from my mother – Bijou Pichamuthu. My love for music and its role in my life was definitely handed to me from my dad – Solomon Jayakumar Pichamuthu and encouraged by my mom.
My love for drawing and the arts enhanced my ability to retain information and express information. I loved geometry… because we could draw :). I enjoyed anything that needed illustrations. When I struggled to make sense or memorize the details in a physics experiment, a war, the boundaries of an empire, I just drew it out. This was recognized and encouraged by a very good friend of mine – Sreelakshmi Shaffiq. I drew when I wrote letters, I drew when I maintained journals, prayers etc. At seminary, I read Dr. Catherine Stonehouse’s book “Joining Children on their Spiritual Journey” -it helped me understand some of my thoughts (some of which I carried with me even as a child). She states that children have a way of theologizing – its just not in the words we would choose. – Oh yes, Indeed! All of these experiences empowered me as a mother to cherish God’s relationship with my little ones. I chose to allow them to express it through art. Those are their Selah Moments beit in the form of dance, music or drawing. I found a comrade in Joy Mistur and I thank God for the great cloud of witnesses in my life. The blog post “Praying in Color” – it was my coming-out-of-the-closet experience. I started doodling more openly, even sharing some. And then came along Ellen Stamps who expressed her excitement and encouraged me to share my meditative drawings online – that’s what birthed Selah Arts on Facebook.
Lately, my art has been influenced by the tribal and folk art traditions of India. I enjoy empowering people to use the arts to express themselves and using it as an effective tool for learning and meditating.
Nadira Balasundaram: Nadira is 7 years old (2014) and is an amazing little girl. She loves the arts. Her primary learning style is through the arts. She could memorize things easily when it was put into a tune. She loves to whip out a pencil and paper. It was when she was 4 that she drew her first prayer and was so involved in talking to God about that need for healing in a little baby’s life. The following Sunday she checked with the person who led the prayer about the health of the baby she had prayed for. That same year she visually illustrated the last days of Jesus during a Maundy Thursday Service.
Nadira is 13 now (2020) and is finding new ways of expressions and greater depths of using her artistic skills.
Aradhya Balasundaram: Aradhya is my littlest amazing girl. She is 5 (2014). She is quite the artist who takes up very closely after Henri Matisse. She loves to cut and make things. She loves to sculpt and is very good at it. She makes pocket holders out of paper and she is only 5!! And then every now and then she will draw a stunning visual representation of something in her heart.
Aradhya is now 10 (2020) she continues to amaze me at her paper creations. Her new skill is geometric patterns and designs.