Welcome to Heard’s Visual Arts gallery. In these posts you’ll find images of our client’s original art. Enjoy!

Each artist whose likeness and/or work is posted on our site has signed a Heard media release or verbally given permission for their likeness and/or the artistic work they created to be posted on this site and shared via our social media platforms.

Tibetan Flags with Friends of Guest House

Imagine if you created your Tibetan Prayer Flag, with your own affirmations. Tibetan Prayer Flags are traditionally believed to bring happiness, peace, prosperity, good fortune, health and victory over obstacles. Who doesn’t want that? The residents of Friends of Guest House created their own flags on August 23, 2021 under the loving direction of our amazing Sharmila Karamchandani. Take a look at these videos and photos, and listen to the powerful messages these brave women created for themselves.

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Superpower!

I don’t know who had more fun this week  – our artist art, or the kids at Casa Chirilagua. Once again Sharmila asked the kids (4th, 5th, and 6th graders) to create their superhero with special superpowers that the world needs. And as always, the most important part of our work is the voluntary sharing the last 20 minutes of the class. Who is your superhero? What are its superpowers? Why? Even the volunteers got into the act and as Sharmila said on her Facebook page: “There are a lot of healthy social skills that can develop when kids feel safe and free to engage with older adult/mentors during such creative endeavors.” Check out these world-saving creations!

This superhero can instantly teach you any kind of music or any musical instrument instantly.

A robot who looks mean but actually is very nice and cares for his family. His hands shoot stones and laser so he can protect his loved ones.

A super hero that saves people from hurricanes and calamities.

Meet Forest Man and Plant Dog. They keep planting and guarding trees so our earth always remains green.

A superhero that has magic powers in his hands. He has bionic eyes with laser sharp focus and can zap you.

Delicate girl made with floral petals. She is gentle and kind.

They both created the sunflower sisters and their superpowers are camouflaging and tele-transporting and also distracting people.

A super hero that just wants to go hug people and spread love.

Which Mask is You?

We’re happy when our artists are happy! Bonus if our partners and clients are too. So we hit the trifecta earlier this week when our visual artist Sharmila Karamchandani was able to go back onsite at Friends of Guest House. While Zoom classes allowed us to survive the pandemic, it wasn’t the same. We (and all of us) struggled with blurry images, poor connection, not enough cameras at our partner sites, people leaving mid-class because of connectivity, lack of supplies, etc. “What a relief it was to feel that joy again to see all the women face-to-face!” Sharmila wrote on her Facebook page.

To celebrate her return to Friends of Guest House, Sharmila chose one of her (and my) favorite projects – masks. Each of the women made two masks where one side shows what she feels on the inside and the other side shows how she seems on the outside. The women were honest with themselves and put it all on paper, Sharmila said, and they credited Friends of Guest House with helping them to dive deeper and really get to know themselves. Don’t you just love nonprofits? What do you think of their masks?

She-Art with Space of Her Own

Wednesday, July 1, was an exciting day, and not just because it is July! We held our first event with the Alexandria nonprofit Space of Her Own – a wonderful mentoring program for preteen girls. What better way to kickstart our new relationship than our She-Art project? We got to know each other over Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap (one of my fave Alexandria pizza places, btw) then our amazing Alison McHugh led 12 girls and mentors through creating their own avatar with their own motivational phrase(s) on a 6″ x 6″ tile.

Over the next two hours the girls selected “She creates from her heart” “She turns her dreams into reality” “She makes everyone feel loved” and more as they focused on phrases that resonated with them while creating themselves with colored paper, scissors, glue, and imagination. We ended our session – way too soon – with everyone sharing their new masterpiece and why they chose and created what they did. Til next time, SOHO! We loved hanging out with you and can’t wait to do it again!



Caring Cards – for us!

June 28, 2021 – Who doesn’t need an affirmation every once in awhile – or every day – to remind us of our awesomeness? Sometimes it’s hard to remember our unique and special selves, especially on those days when the rest of the world seems to say otherwise. So, our Heard artist Alison McHugh led the Friends of Guest House women through this wonderful papercraft class where they each chose their own affirmation (pre-printed, or they could create their own) and designed cards that they can place on a dresser, vanity, or desk to remind them of their greatness or to motivate them with love. What do you think?

Who is your Superhero?

Who is your Super Hero? Wonder Woman? Batman? Or, as we did with the women at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, VA, we made our own. Our super heroes have magic in them that help us and help the world. Take a look at what creative and healing superheroes the inmates created under the guidance of our amazing Heard teacher Sharmila Karamchandani. Don’t you wish these superheroes really existed?
This creature has a calming face and body of strength. The red fingertips have healing quality. She comes into your life to make you realize your own beauty.
Meet the Pain Relieving Octopus! It has healing tentacles. Wherever you have pain the tentacles can heal you upon touch.

What Mask do you Wear?

We all wear masks. We wear masks that reflect who we want to be to the outside world, and we wear masks that we wear only to ourselves. Our amazing art teacher Sharmila led the women of ALIVE! House through this project last night, with such power results! They each shared what their masks represented and gave us permission to share their masks – some of them – with you!

Helloooooo India!

Sometimes opportunities present themselves that are just too good to resist. And sometimes good people come together in strange and beautiful ways. That happened on January 22, 2021, when we partnered with 7 Sisters International, a nonprofit in Assam, India, that provides care for trafficked girls in South Asia, for a one-time arts project. How did this happen? Their founder was a friend and peer of our founder when they both served in the United States Air Force. Our India-born Sharmila Karamchandani was thrilled to teach a class in her native Hindi, despite the 12 1/2 hour time difference. She tells the story so well, which we lifted and edited from her Facebook post. Video and photos follow. And I love this video of Sharmila teaching this class in Hindi.


Last Friday, I had the opportunity to facilitate a visual art workshop through Heard for 7 Sisters International. [I]t was Saturday morning for them and Friday night for me. I felt fortunate to facilitate this workshop in my home country and in my national language Hindi. There were around 20 girls who attended the workshop. We made puppets. Each one made two puppets, One of themselves and the second one of the person who had positively influenced them the most.
They all sat on the floor with very little space in-between. After demonstrating what they were asked to make, soon innocent giggles warmed up my heart to see them all engrossed in cutting, thinking, making their puppets. They shared their supplies and also exchanged silly talks amongst each other…I wish I was there in person to bask in all the joy and happiness they emitted through the rectangular boxes on my screen. We created our puppets for an hour while listening to Bollywood dance songs.
Then came the time to share…which happens to be my favorite part of these workshops as there is so much wisdom imparted by these young souls. They each came on camera and shared their puppets one by one…some were bold and chatty, some shy and pensive, some apprehensive to come on camera…but they all shared and their counselor was happily surprised to see some of the quiet ones talk and share. I was so enamored by their innocence, silly child-like qualities, and creativity, and one yet a part of my heart was deeply saddened by the thought of what these girls must have endured in their young lives.
I was so impressed by their creativity, craftsmanship, and sharing. There made some unique puppets–a puppet of 7 sisters international building as this girl expressed was the best thing that happened to her; a puppet was made of “inspiring quotes” as that influenced this person the most; puppets of founders Janice and Donald and one of their Counselor Anna…Some made puppets of their sisters and other girls in the room, one created a puppet of God, one puppet was of a tik-tok (Social media platform) celebrity. One unique puppet was of a pigeon according to this girl was her guardian angel always flying above her to protect her.
They shared three things about themselves through their puppets…the atmosphere was light as they were being silly and goofy just like how children should be…a few said they love to read, to cook, one said she loves to sleep and quarrel, a lot of them liked to go out and see new places, to sing, to dance, eat chocolates and talk to their friends, counselors, and family members. I am grateful for organizations like 7 Sisters International that provide a safe space for girls who have been through such a rough childhood. Grateful to
Heard for this partnership and grateful to Jane Hess Collins for bringing me this opportunity to work in my home country. My heart is filled with gratitude and blessings for the girls whom I wish a lot of healing and a great life ahead.
Last but not least, I made a puppet too of my mom Anjana Khushalani who always inspires me to see the best in every situation, think positive, have faith in good karma, to never stop learning, and be kind to everyone ?

Who is your Puppet Avatar?

Happy new year everyone! Heard held its last class of 2020 at Friends of Guest House yesterday. Sharmila asked the women to create two puppets – one of the person who has had the most positive influence on you, and one of yourself. If you shared what you created, you were asked to share three interesting facts about you through your puppet.

Meet Crystal. She loves to work with hair, to sew, and to read. The puppet on the right is her mom. She always encouraged Crystal to think about people who had it worse than her and then she would always feel how blessed she truly was.

The puppet in Meet Tonya. Don’t you love her pink hair? To the right of Tonya’s puppet of herself is an unnamed family member who always stood by her and never gave up on her. This family member may have been a bit disappointed with her when she got in trouble but never stopped loving her.

This last puppet is of Sharmila’s brother who she credits as her role model and hero, and who introduced her to reading, music and strong values. Sharmila said that he has been extremely supportive of her in every step of her life, and she would not be the same [amazing] person if she did not have him in her life.

As you start 2021, who is your puppet avatar?

More Cups of Life!

Our “Four Cups of Life” virtual arts class with Friends of Guest House was such a hit that we brought it to Doorways, an Arlington nonprofit that offers support, shelter, and services for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, a few days later. Still powerful, still strong!

Creative Writing

Visual Arts



Public Speaking