September 27, 2023: The ask came pretty late. Could we support the City of Alexandria’s Recovery celebration? Led by the city’s Opioid Treatment Program team, this event celebrates those in addiction recovery. In years past we offered a creative writing seminar, and this year was a little different. They had already purchased canvas frames and markers – could a Heard artist lead this event? Was our Heard visual artist, Sharmila Karamchandani, even available?
Yes, she was. Phew. The hard part was over. And we weren’t really sure what Sharmila was walking in to. It was a new venue, with other activities happening simultaneously. Would anyone even stop by?
And of course they did, and Sharmila made that happen. She wrote: “At first, the visitors were apprehensive to draw or paint anything. We had different size canvases, paint markers, regular markers, and different colored papers. Most of them started by saying they couldn’t draw or paint. or they would say “I am really bad at art.” I then invited them to give it a chance, come sit with me and color and just feel how the pens felt against the canvas, I offered to write their names in an abstract way or Realistic (their choice) and then they could just fill in the colors or make designs of their choice. Also, they could quiz people to find all the letters in their names.
Art revealed its Magic. They were amused by this. Slowly, people started giving it a chance and very soon a one-hour session turned into 3 hours with a table full of visitors engrossed in coloring and feeling happy with working on their pieces. In the end, most of them who gave this a chance left with personalized canvases and big smiles A lot of them said how therapeutic this time felt when they were coloring. Two of them said it felt more enjoyable than their other therapy. Feel blessed to be able to do such meaningful work in the community. I truly had a great time.”