Indu Varma works at her studio on one of her ceramic balloons for her upcoming show at Struts Gallery. Her clay sculpture Unconditional Love sits in the background, waiting to be glazed and fired. TOWER PHOTO
SACKVILLE, N.B. – A local artist is putting her love of children and the simple joys they can bring to your life into her latest work.
Indu Varma is set to open up a new exhibit this week that will put the spotlight on how much adults can learn from young kids, thanks to the unconditional love and kindness they so openly give.
‘Lessons Learned from Six Year Olds’ will open at Struts Gallery on Lorne Street this Thursday, Oct. 3 and run through until Monday, Oct. 14. An opening reception will be held this Friday evening at 5 p.m.
“This work is a celebration of what six year olds do and what I have learned from them,” she said from her Sackville studio last week.
The show will feature a dozen sculpted black and white print drawings, which Varma has been working on for several months now and were mostly inspired by lessons and stories she has learned from her grandchildren, particularly her six-year-old granddaughter Shaela.
“I just started observing what she was doing, the things she says and does,” said Varma. “And I realized there are so many things they can teach us.”
“It’s really about taking the time to pause and to think . . .sometimes we get so caught up in our everyday lives, we just forget to enjoy the simple things and the simple pleasures.
One of Varma’s prints, entitled Shaela’s hug, offers a view into a child’s lighthearted enthusiasm and openness.
“When Shaela gives you a hug, it’s not just a hug, it’s a full body hug. She just gives her love unconditionally, without thought.”
Another of Varma’s drawings is based on a basketball game that Shaela’s brother was taking part in, in which her granddaughter took to the court at halftime to run around, dribbling and shooting the ball. This caused Varma to consider how children don’t squander away an opportunity to take pleasure out of the everyday.
“For her, it was simply ‘if I have two minutes, let me not waste it.’ It made me think about how many minutes we wile away sometimes that we could put to better use.”
The delightful enjoyment her six-year-old granddaughter gets out of sweet treats and tickle fights are also highlighted in some of Varma’s drawings that will be on display. She hopes these images will convey the message of “how we forget to take enjoyment sometimes from the simple things; how we forget to laugh and to play.”
The series of prints have been done in a black-and-white, square format, said Varma, to express the idea that “children are very straightforward and say things how they see them or feel them.”
Also in the exhibit will be a clay sculpture called ‘Unconditional Love’ and an array of colorful ceramic balloons.
Varma, a retired educator, is dedicating her upcoming exhibit to the memory of the six teachers and the 20 six-year-old children of Sandy Hook Elementary School who were shot and killed last year on Dec. 14.
She said she was terribly disturbed when she heard the news of the school shooting, and it prompted her to think about the purity and innocence of those six-year-olds “who didn’t do anything to anybody” but were the victims of circumstance.
Varma will be donating the profits from the sale of her prints to the Atlantic Wellness Community Center, a non-profit organization based in Riverview geared towards helping individuals with mental health issues, “because I think the shooter Adam Lanza probably had some serious mental health-related issues.”
“Mental health is an area that doesn’t get adequate attention, so I hope this will bring more awareness to this issue,” she said.
Through fundraising and donations, the Atlantic Wellness Community Center is able to provide professional counseling and support to youth ages 12-21 who struggle with mental illness and mental health concerns at no charge.