Kanika Khurana is an Indian Artist-Illustrator living in Danbury, CT. An artist with love and appreciation for children's literature and creative story telling.
Khurana has a deep understanding and love for the arts. When speaking with her recently, I discovered that she carried a spiritual connection to art and story telling, one that transcends her physical work and carries through emotions and her way of speaking about being an artist.
Khurana came to Connecticut in 2013 to study Illustration at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU), and also studied at the School of Visual Arts, NYC. She has received multiple awards including the prestigious WB Connor Trust Scholarship, a scholarship from WCSU for promising art majors, and an award from the British Council, New Delhi and South Kanara, India. These awards are well deserved because Khurana's work is nothing short of incredible and influential.
Kanika Khurana’s influence comes from her mother and maternal grandmother, two women who have deep ties to creativity and artistic creation. “Both my grandmother and mother wanted to get professional training and be artists, but couldn’t do that because of set gender roles. I felt the subconscious responsibility to finish the unfinished business of generations before me.”
Although she was inspired by her familial connection to art and creativity, Khurana did not start as a practicing artist. She attended Manipal University in India and earned a degree in Physical Therapy.
“I chose to become a Physical Therapist for I showed a definite academic inclination towards science,” Khurana said, “I performed well, but reached a roadblock. I decided to rediscover my aspirations. I realized I was a seeker and that among the many paths I discovered during my journey, my creative calling was the most fulfilling. I found Zen in art.”
She did not pursue a career in Physical Therapy, but it did influence her artistic style and sensibility. Khurana became a spiritual artist, with the intent and understanding to help heal through the arts on a metaphysical and spiritual level.
“In my little but significant experience in the field of health care, I have observed modern day ailments are of stress related origin. That is because in earlier times people had more time at their disposal. They spent time making things, beautiful or artistic. They produced buildings with ornamental gardens, paintings, and sculpture. Art held an honored place since beauty served to enrich their souls with spiritual joy.
We as human beings have a gift of reflection. With that, we can appreciate art. Since beauty arouses joy, therefore great art can bring spiritual enchantment. I hope that through my art and writing, I will be able to give people a sense of peace and harmony. By doing this, I could still heal people, but on a metaphysical level.”
Khurana's realization, that creation is her key to tranquility, opened a new door for her, one that sparked a journey of self-discovery and experimenting with different styles of art. Khurana's knowledge of modern ailments and that a lack of art has caused a rift in humanity, lead her to try and find a way to bring that life-with-art back.
“I am a seeker first and foremost. During my journey within I have found that following my creative calling is the easiest way to soul cleansing. My mixed media paintings are inspired by my Indian heritage and 16-18th century Indian Miniature Paintings. I hope through my art I will be able to give people a sense of enchantment.”
Her work reflects her desire to create enchantment in the viewer and it can be felt when looking at her pieces such as "Tough Choice" pictured below. A pair of hands pulls the strings of two boats sailing through an open water, the feeling of comfort yet unease is apparent and a story unfolds without having to use language.
It hasn't always been easy. In fact, as most artists know, the hardest part of being an artist is knowing how to promote yourself. Khurana says, "Trying to balance creating art and promoting one's art," is the hardest part of being an artist.
Just because it is difficult doesn't mean there aren't a few tricks to make it easier. Khurana has advice for artists just starting to join the art-world.
"I have striven to live by high ideals, always reminding myself of what my elders said - the brilliance of a diamond doesn't emerge with the diamond itself - it takes years of labor to polish and produce a good human being. And you can say the same thing about a good artist. There is a dialogue in my favorite Bollywood movie 'chase excellence and success follows.' That would be my advice to say to someone starting out."
As an educator, Khurana knows exactly what to say to instill encouragement in a young artist.
Kanika Khurana’s work is currently on display as a part of the “A Tradition of Excellence:” faculty exhibit currently on view at the Brookfield Craft Center.
Check out Khurana’s website to see her latest work and upcoming events.