This artist journey close-up sheds light on the life-cycle of a gifted artist who happens to suffer with a chronic illness. Sometimes art is the outlet and sometimes it is the epiphany. Sometimes it is both. And, it is not only a tool for Sonali Kukreja’s own healing, but a gift that she gives to all who suffer with illness. We hope you find Sonali’s story as inspiring and motivational as we did.
It’s very true that our country is as diverse and unique as any on earth and this featured artist proudly represents not only diversity, but creativity and the highly sought-after quality of tenacity. Sonali Kukreja is an artist whose mission is as American as our forefathers. In the spirit of innovation, perseverance, patience and stamina in the shadows of chronic illness, Sonali shows how we all can overcome the obstacles that come into our lives uninvited. Read below to learn more about her amazing journey.
Sonali Kukreja was born and raised in India and now lives and creates her art here in the United States in Austin, Texas. With each creation, she’s making a difference in the lives of fans and patrons because Sonali believes that art is a path to healing.
Her work has been an inspiration for not only those who seek to understand life, but also those who are dealing with illness, setbacks, or hardship.
With a Masters degree in Psychology, Sonali has a gift for tapping into the range of human emotion from desire and fear to joy and frustration. In getting to know her, you see her strong belief in the human spirit and commitment to transferring positive emotion and experiences. She uses her education as a catapult for her work which now enables her to touch many lives both here and internationally.
With pieces displayed all over the world from Texas (where she auctions her paintings at local fundraisers) to private collections internationally, Sonali has made this one-time hobby her full-time passion and career.
Sonali helps others see differently.
The team here at Arts Row understood immediately the depth of passion that Sonali has for the arts. Each of her pieces were accompanied with a message of healing, empowerment and nourishment for the soul.
At first glance, you are taken aback by the attractiveness of the color and shapes in her abstracts. Aesthetically pleasing to the eye is what captivates the viewer first. Then, shortly after, it’s a sense of peace and understanding that becomes more clear.
And now a word from the artist herself:
I have been living with a rare auto immune condition for the last 13 years, for which there is no cure. I’ve undergone heavy duty therapies with the hope for improvement. Treatment is meant to suppress symptoms with the expectation of putting my condition into remission. These heavy duty toxic medications have taken a toll on my body, causing more health issues which require yet more medications. It’s a never ending cycle. There was a time when I couldn’t sit up, stand up or walk. We were in Michigan at the time and I used to drag myself to the gym, snow, rain or shine, focussed on strengthening my body, telling myself that I was not going to end up in bed. But now, I have hope – to end it with the power I feel comes through my art. It has already transformed me. I now have a positive outlook on life. And I see the results in my health and it’s made me a strong advocate of the arts and its connection to healing. Art has opened a whole new world to me that I never saw before my illness.
So, a few years ago, my husband and I were in India for 2 years. I didn’t know what to do while he was away at work everyday. Having a passion for interior decor, I spent a lot of time visiting home design stores and the artwork always grabbed my attention, as I’ve always been fascinated by art. It prompted me to take an oil painting and mixed media art class. That one month class extended to an year and a half. I used to lose track of time because it took me into this magical world and made me forget who and where I was. When I paint, I’m able to stand for hours at a time versus otherwise when I cannot stand for 5 minutes without needing to sit.
Art has so much power.
I used to question why my illness happened to me? Why did it come at such an early age? What did I do to deserve it? But art made me accept my reality and move onward focusing on the good things that were happening. I became more grateful for what I had. I told myself, “No more tears, no more victim mentality, the pity party is over and all will be fine. Let’s focus on how to deal with it.” I realized I’ve got one life only and I can’t lose any of it on any negative thoughts. Since then I’ve been working with art relentlessly. It has become my catharsis which has taken me away from all the unpredictability of life and that always keeps me going.
The process of drawing and then painting had such an extreme healing and peaceful effect on me that I wanted to send those healing vibes to others. It felt like I had a purpose in life now. And as if in confirmation, my initial paintings were sold right away. I took it as a sign from God. That was a turning point in my life. All of these factors propelled me towards pursuing art all the more. My goal is to make my work serene, inspiring and positive. Therefore, I describe and write some motivating, inspiring and thought provoking lines with each piece. I feel it was all planned. Like they say, things happen and keep happening and falling into place if it’s meant to be. One is simply required to recognize and acknowledge the signs.
It’s a beautiful thing when passion and profession blend together.
Well, as much as I wanted to get out there, and be known and explore, I was intimidated and terrified. I guess quite a bit of that has to do with my Indian culture and the hesitation and doubt if I would be accepted. But then, thanks to Austin, the moment arrived and I hit the submit button to sign up for a one of a kind “Pancakes and Booze” event. This event showcased local art and it had pancakes, booze, music and dance! It was a great hit and a much needed boost. That one move pushed me forward and I haven’t looked back. The beginning is always the hardest part. “I can and I will” is what I tell myself all the time. And I have to say, with persistence and determination, I have come a long way in a short span of time.
As a multiple international award winning contemporary artist, Sonali, has been written about in various magazines and has been invited to talk about art on local Austin community radio. She also writes blogs that empower people to use art in the healing process of mind and body while motivating them with her own personal experiences. She has exhibited internationally and her artworks are in private collections around the world. The beautiful part about that is that a portion of her sales are going to a home for the elderly in Patiala, India.
Her body of work is diverse – from representational to abstract. Her expressions are strong, bold and compelling. You may see that cultural expectations and struggle take a center stage in her works. Her subjects are real, and whether happy or sad, she paints them in her own personal style.
One of the most unique things about Sonali’s artwork is that she ends her work with an inspirational note as she believes that it’s not what the situations are, but how they’re dealt with.
She works mainly on canvas with oil and acrylic paints using tools such as a palette knife and barbecue skewer.
While in college, Sonali wanted to become a Psychologist. That led her to get a Masters degree in Psychology and subsequently enroll in to a PhD program with an emphasis on studying working married couples and eventually becoming a Marriage Counselor. She later moved to the US and started exploring various opportunities in counseling. Before anything could materialize, she and her husband moved to India for a 2 year work assignment. During that trip, somewhat unexpectedly, a hidden desire she always had for art came to the surface. She joined a local art academy which enlightened her immediately. She felt it was a very powerful and personal means of visual expression and was inspired to transfer all her energy and agony into it which she was going through due to her chronic health condition. Since then there has been no turning back. Art has given her a new meaning to life making it easier for her to deal with everyday struggle that she goes through with her body. She believes either you complain about what you don’t have or rejoice in the things you do have and make the best of it. Therefore, she chose to make the rest of her life, the best of her life. She’s had the fortune of traveling around the world, opportunities to get international exposure. What started as a part-time hobby has now become a full-time profession.
My aim is to help clients realize their creative side with my artwork and the thoughts portrayed in them. I empower them with my positive vibes and enable them to see how complete the space looks with art. My intent is to make my art conversational and make viewers to look within and see what it says to them. Art should move you and not just hang on the wall. I feel, even if a drop of inspiration or encouragement becomes a reservoir of confidence and creativity in someone’s life, it would be worth it. And that’s how “Serene Compositions” came into existence. It makes very happy to see my clients, art collectors and fans happy.Art is my voice. This is the only place where I can be myself and it’s a true reflection of who I am.
My work is an expression of the psychological and emotional interpretation of events. Each painting I create allows me to grow and what I learn, I share it with the world through my art. I work with 2-3 paintings at a time. My psychologist mind makes me want to study people which inspires me to paint human forms as I feel it evokes different emotions but at the same time I don’t hold back on my creativity and push my cultural restraints to express my thoughts on any issue or subject. I believe that this whole world is beautiful and inspirational. Therefore, I like challenging myself and testing the waters for new possibilities.
I am in a constant state of gratefulness to God who has taken me to where I am and to where I am headed.
Our team at Arts Row has enjoyed getting to know Sonali better through her art and her testimony. She epitomizes the mission of our company.
| Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. – Mother Teresa
If you’ve enjoyed this art journey close up, why not visit Sonali’s website to see more of her amazing talent. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Here’s where Sonali has exhibited this year so far. Find out more by contacting her:
July 1 – Summer Art Show, Juried- Israeli Art Market, Israel
May 14, 15 & 21, 22 – WEST (West Austin Studio Tour)
May 14-15 – “Tour the Talent” Studio tour by Artists Alliance of the Hill Country
April 15 – “Austin Figurative Show”, Juried, Austin Art Space Gallery
March 3-5 – Nude Nite, Juried, Tampa, Florida
January 15th – “Women Unbound”, Juried, American Asian Resource Center, Austin
January 6th – Bass Concert Hall, University of Texas, Austin