MySankalpa: Empowered Art & Affirmation

In my own journey through exploring art, ritual and affirmation, I discovered the capacity to know and change myself through a regular and intentional art practice. Of a naturally rebellious nature, I threw discipline out of my scope of interest along with the stability it can provide. In more recent years and specifically the last 400+ days, I have cultivated a creative ritual entitled #MySankalpa.
In sharing my own personal practice of regular art and accompanying affirmations which carry the essence of the metaphor/message in the image - I found others who were interested to join a larger movement together. This generated a Facebook group by the MySankalpa name and a tag for sharing the practice across platforms. If you search this hashtag of #MySankalpa you can see the hundreds of images being shared from around the world!
This regularity, predictability and sense of agency help me to feel empowered and in deeper relation to my own life and viewpoint on reality. It has been a journey to find a conscious way to communicate both visually and with words in a way that is layered and meaningful, and most importantly, consistent. My current awareness is that it has helped me take responsibility for my creative voice, regardless of how others see it, and to tap into my source of resilience through all the ups and downs of life. I would love to hear how you experience it, please join us in the practice (links and guidelines below)! 
Krupa Jhaveri
Compiled images from the beginning of my own journey with the MySankalpa practice.

A space to connect through the daily practice of sharing an image and an affirmation with the tag #MySankalpa!
Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word which means intention, affirmation, willpower and determination. The combination of a creative act and a written goal or wish can be transformative.
Art is a mirror to the deeper self. Each image is a capture of that reflection, and can be a mandala or sacred circle, a photo, drawing or other form of visual art which speaks to you.
Please see ongoing examples below and a few tips:
• Messages can begin with:
#MySankalpa is I am...
#MySankalpa is we are...
• There is no right or wrong way of self-expression. Trust yourself and allow your creativity to flow!
• The daily ritual will foster growth, develop a compassionate commitment which works for you (others started with one week and continued).
• If you share first from Instagram or another platform, please share your image in this group. Optional tags to include after your message: #artasamirror #art #ritual #dailyaffirmation #spreadtheart
• Advertisements, inappropriate or disrespectful posts will be deleted.
Let this be a safe space to nurture meaningful self-expression for each of you, and a space to connect through your practice and may this bring more peace, healing, depth and connection in this world.
This practice was developed through art and art therapy experiments by the Sankalpa: Art Journeys effort based in Auroville, south India.
Happy creating!

Art Break Day 2017: Collaborative Kolam Mural

Our 5th year of a global art revolution in Auroville was shared simultaneously by 47 other sites around the world on September 1st, 2017! The generous funding from the US-based Art is Moving was no longer available this year, so simplifying this community ritual of art-making allowed us to focus on one large art piece together. Since shifting to India from the US eight years ago, I often reflect on the ability to be resourceful and imaginative in the face of difficulties. It is a major part of everyday life here to adapt and persevere, and this year included several creative responses to challenges.


Behind the Visitor's Center Cafeteria in Auroville, there is a 20-foot green shipping container used for storage of grains and goods for cooking meals for our community. We gathered about 75 people including youth and all ages, from all backgrounds to create a community art mural on this container for Art Break Day. The design of this mural is based on a simple kolam pattern (traditional ground drawings done by local women each morning), layered with colors and patterns which allowed original self-expression.

As the local workers are the ones who see and use this container everyday, it was a gesture of gratitude to honor and celebrate their culture in this piece. As rains poured down on us in the morning, the staff smiled as we repeated meters of kolam and chalk lines to lead visitors to the mural hidden in the back of the campus. Many watched us with curiosity and during the afternoon tea break, we managed to gradually encourage many of the shy ammas (women) to join us one by one, until there was a cacophony of laughter and play while they each made smaller kolam designs and images within the larger mural. This was a powerful moment of social justice and true human unity through art, where an equalizing space of creativity was engaged by all.

Auroville is an international experiment in human unity, and most will admit that this vision works better on some days than others. By choosing to do only one piece, this mural became an investigation in how we find ways to work together without hierarchy. With seven years of niche experience in bridging gaps through art in Auroville, I found that providing a structure allowed each individual to find their place and make their mark. Humility, equality, cooperation, communication, coordination, dedication and patience are some of the values which came alive during our journey together. As always, the process was more important than the product, though the vibrant result is worth a visit in person!


Thank you to volunteers Karunya, Andrej, Ilango, Mathilde, Marie-Claire, Mousumi and to Vinay for photos; to Nicole for offering this public space for artmaking; to Lauren & Lisa of Art is Moving for initiating this movement; and to each artist who courageously participated, especially the hardworking team at Visitors Center in Auroville.

With love, light and color,
Krupa for Sankalpa (subunit of Thamarai)
See the full photo album and listen to the Auroville Radio interview, and more on Art Break Day and how to join anywhere in the world!

TEDx Talk Online + Slides!

Excited to finally have the video online and available to share! Given the relevant power of images in this talk, please find the 9 slides I compiled for reference below as well as the video itself.

Most (if not all) of the speakers had professional guidance and coaching for their talks, due to travel and financial limitations I crafted this talk without much external help. I learned more than I ever would have expected in delivering this one talk, especially in the late changes to refine it for a wider audience.

Admittedly due to nerves I left out an important and simple definition of art therapy, sharing the intended excerpt below. It is a true act of self-compassion to judge less, accept more and know that this is just one step in a rich and meaningful journey to share the power of art. Thank you for following!

What is art therapy? People around the world often ask me this question and I say: when we create, it is our subconscious reflecting itself in what we make. I am trained to see certain patterns in that visual language, but each person knows their own stories and symbols better than I do, so I am available to help guide people to see their reflection. This mirror is a tool for deeper self-awareness, understanding, insight, growth, storytelling, letting go, and sharing.

TEDx 4: Integration

As I begin to integrate the experience of giving a TEDx talk, I find acceptance, compassion, gratitude and a sense of accomplishment.

We all have a self-critical voice, sometimes habitually amplified in times of stress. The reality of a live audience, 24 remarkable women sharing the stage of the TEDx Wilmington Women event, open and curious eyes tuning in from around the world on live-stream, as well as the legacy of a recorded video was quite overwhelming!

After finishing the talk, I decided to try not to focus on what was missed, what could have been different, comparison to the speakers with speech coaches and training, and all that could diminish the value of this accomplishment. I remembered how unique I am for having traveled back to the US while preparing for this talk, using my hands throughout, including writing the script over and over by hand to help me memorize it. I know I embodied creativity throughout the unusual path to the stage.

I found acceptance in having shared exactly what needed to be shared, trusting my own expression and this incredible opportunity to be heard, and compassion for myself for having made it through the journey!

Inspired by feedback, positive response and curiosity, I foresee many future chances to share much more. I continue to be validated in knowing the last-minute changes to deliver a wider, simpler message (at least for this first talk) was most appropriate and useful.

Bonding with the other speakers and connecting to so many through this new network is another gift of the process. I am particularly grateful to the organizer Ajit Matthew George for including me in this event, for an inspiring TEDx Wilmington tribe effort, and to each new connection and message of support sent my way. The video will be online in a few weeks, I will share it then!

TEDx Preparation 3: Art as a Mirror

Only two days before the next rigorous deadline for the finalized TEDx talk materials, I had the honor to meet Ajit Matthew George, the organizer of TEDx Wilmington. Having only a virtual contact online, and transitioning into my stay in Wilmington, DE, Ajit and I managed to finally find time in our schedules when I decided to combine worlds and invite him for a welcome dinner as part of my two-month artist residency. It was an evening of inspiring conversation and exchange with many professors and chairs of various departments at the University of Delaware. I also received brief but incredibly valuable feedback about my idea worth spreading.

It became clear that I am fortunate to be regularly surrounded by experts in very unique and interesting fields related to art, art therapy, psychology, anthropology, design, curation, cultural studies, women’s studies and similar niche areas. I take it for granted that everyone understands what art therapy is, and I honestly lost perspective as I am constantly answering questions about the basic definition of the field. I was craving depth in this sharing and got lost in developing a talk meant for a much smaller group of interested people.

Ajit helped me to zoom out and see the need to develop the message at a much more universal level, to define art therapy and to refine my strengths and weaknesses based on the draft video I had sent in earlier.

In a very intensive and time-sensitive process of restructuring, I completely reformatted my talk. I am grateful for this chance to improve my communication of an even more important message to not underestimate art. I found myself embodying the creativity I speak about through this latest round of changes.

I sit in a car somewhere between Delaware and Massachusetts and I am so grateful that technology allows me to share this update which includes a new title for my talk: Art as a Mirror.

The excitement continues, and what a journey it has been already!

Images: from #MySankalpa daily art and affirmation series on Instagram: @sankalpajourneys

TEDx Preparation 2: Circles, Cycles & Clarity

As the preparation continues, I dive into the challenge of being simultaneously succinct and clear. Inspiration is endless and fleeting, but to bring a cohesive message to a wider audience is no small task!

I traveled from India to the US last week for a two-month artist residency based in Wilmington, DE with opportunities to work with children and families in a hospital as well as hundreds of students at the University of Delaware, connecting culture, social justice issues and community through art. At the moment it is a daunting but exciting task to integrate jet lag, reverse culture shock, adjustments to climate, food, family, maintaining my organization's effort with a wonderful team back home, all while refining this talk.

The perspective of travel is so useful in reminding me of an incredible web of support I have woven across the world, how the essence of who I am and my message remains true no matter where I go, and somehow that karma is real — many years of extremely challenging and isolated work in service of others, often with little or no financial gain, has come back to me tenfold now in abundance in so many other ways.
#MySankalpa is I am #speaking from the #center.
The fall of man is the descent of the ladder from the dot to the circumference; the resurrection or redemption of man is his return from the circumference to the dot. —Manly P. Hall, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy

And so I find myself grounding into my being, returning to my center, clarifying my purpose and ideas into a sample of a larger message I know I am meant to share. Tracing the periphery of a wider circle of the world is poignant as I return to roots in many places, to see the most defined point in the middle of it all, which is the simple essence of everything.

The beautiful irony is that I am continuously given opportunities to embody my message in my life – to maintain rituals which help me keep balance (such as daily mandala/image and affirmation posts, journaling which I have been doing since childhood, meditation), to breathe with awareness (which is how I open the talk), and to remember that nature contains all the answers.

Rehearsing the talk, editing my words, listening and seeing myself share them, is surreal as it gives me a chance to step outside of myself and appreciate how far I have come. I see my value, and I know that this helps me guide others to see theirs too.

Remembering my favorite TED talk which embodies art for healing: 

Tickets and more information on the TEDx Wilmington Women event, October 27, 2016.

Art Break Day 2016: Believe

I believe art is awareness.
I believe art is connection.
I believe in celebration.

For the 4th year, Sankalpa hosted a hub site for the international Art Break Day, as one of 40 locations around the world. We expanded our offering over two days to include our art center for a giant collaborative mandala.

Over 300 people joined us on September 2nd & 3rd at Visitor’s Center and the Sankalpa Art Center to sit down, take an art break, and express themselves for free. The scale, depth and layers of artistic interaction and creativity went above and beyond this year, with new explorations and collaborations in every direction.

It was touching to see many schoolchildren for the 4th year, returning with visible confidence and enthusiasm to sit down and create again. Large groups of young Tamil tourists passed shyly through Visitor’s Center, and with encouragement, several sat down to turn their curiosity into art. The theme of believe inspired many unique and interesting responses with such a range of participants from different ages and backgrounds. Whether someone was creating art for the first time in 15 years (as many come to us in this state), or several times in a day, all were welcomed.

At the Sankalpa Art Center, over 50 people joined us to sit equally across all barriers and play with colorful materials, collaborating on a large-scale rainbow mandala. The sight of this interaction brought tears to (not only) my eyes, inspiring and reminding all of the reason we were called to Auroville, to live together in human unity. Often it is the individual ego that blocks our willingness to sit at the same level as the other, to let hierarchy disappear, to take a risk to share materials, to loosen boundaries and cross them occasionally with respect, to play and interact in simple ways. In metaphor, this mandala was a visible map of the Mother’s Dream for Auroville, particularly: "Beauty in all its artistic forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, would be equally accessible to all; the ability to share in the joy it brings would be limited only by the capacities of each one and not by social or financial position.”

Aerial time lapse still, GoPro camera, thank you to Doris, Vinay & Darshan for arranging this spectacular point of view!
Infinite gratitude to Lauren & Lisa of Art is Moving in CA, USA for sponsoring and initiating this global art revolution; the hand-working and expanding Sankalpa team including Elena (pre-Newcomer from Russia), Subadhra (AV youth), Jayabharati (Edyanchavadi), Manaali (Bangalore), Vinay (AV youth), with help from Marie-Claire (Auroville) and Osheen (Bangalore) and a special embroidered touch by Vanitha (AV youth, Trishine); Nicole, Peter, Marc, Selvam, Narayan and all friends at Dreamer’s Café and Visitor’s Center for ongoing support; incredible photo/video/radio documentation from Vinay & Ashwin (AV youth), Darshan (Chandigarh), Marco Saroldi (AV Arts Service), Fanny (Pondy), Doris & Francis (AV), Vikram Ram & Fred (drone coverage), Fabienne & Srijita (AV – Outreach Media & Security permissions), Dinesh Varma/S Senthilar/SS Kumar (The Hindu), Miriam & Pierre (Auroville Radio). So many others supported in less visible but invaluable ways, thank you to each of you too.

Though I am an art therapist, I believe fundamentally in art being accessible to all. The scale of our programs and effort is expanding to meet the needs of our larger community, starting with community art as outreach at our Art Cart and events, and widening and deepening to art therapy in individual and group sessions in our center, as well as sharing this work internationally. Art has the potential to change lives, and to unify our communities.

I will be speaking about ritual and resilience in a TEDx Women talk in Wilmington, DE, USA in October 2016, highlighting the value and power of these events as part of a community ritual of gathering around art.

Press coverage here and photos/video online soon at links below:
A space for art: The Hindu, Sept 10, 2016
Time for art for art's sake: The Hindu, Aug 31, 2016
I Believe: Auroville Radio, Sept 11, 2016

Love, light, and color,
Krupa for Sankalpa (sub-unit of Thamarai in Auroville)

FB updates (photos, links, daily mandalas):

TEDx Wilmington Women Preparation

Refine thy rapture. —Aleister Crowley

The preparation for this talk feels guided and orchestrated beyond my control. Each day in my community, I meet wisdom-keepers sharing succinct and relevant gems from their life learning. My process is partly to compile this collective research on themes related to time, ritual, cycles and creation. I started to ask those near me to reflect one-word responses to these four themes, resulting in an anthropological survey to stimulate the universal connections in the foundation of my talk.

“The woman on the stage is weaving wonder, not witchcraft. But her skills are potent as any sorcery.” In Chris Anderson’s TED Talks guidebook, I found immediate connection to this element of magic and power in the journey of spreading a message worth sharing. An initial doubt around sharing this language in potential to lose credibility was shed. It is in fact important to address this authentic, common though visceral experience. What if we acknowledge our connectedness, these small wonders that reassure us each we are on our path?

The opportunity to communicate widely, with such support and encouragement is daunting, but also feels natural in my life trajectory. 5 years ago, my story appeared in a collective journal bound by Levi’s jeans and TED India, exhibited at TED Global 2011 in Edinburgh. It is a time of sharing.

Curiosity, originality, universality, and joy are underlying this preparation. In the collecting, distilling and editing of information, it is also a synthesis of wisdom into symbolic and image form. I hope to create a mandala on stage while speaking, which would be revealed at the end of the talk.

Celebrating Onam, the Kerala harvest festival, I recognize the need to find an inner center and calm while riding the wave of abundance in my life.

With gratitude,

Krupa Jhaveri, BFA, MPS, TIEATC
International Art Therapist & Art Director
Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy Consultant
TEDxWilmington Women Speaker on Art as Ritual & Resilience (October 27, 2016)

Ritual & Resilience

#MySankalpa is I am exploring that which remains.
#MySankalpa is I am the trace of a new beginning.
Sankalpa is transitioning through a rebirth, a restructuring and redefinition on many levels. The dream which was clear to me in a meditative vision in 2008 has materialized, and it is a mystery to understand the details of the path ahead. I continue to receive extraordinary support and positive feedback from a worldwide network, but struggle in a small community as a pioneer to make the effort sustainable without me as the sole driving force. While out for a month, traveling in Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong, the team of Sankalpa went through challenges and miscommunications which led to two people (of the core four) leaving, and everything being shut down for a month of reevaluation.

As with all difficulties, a spiritual approach of seeking the positive and lessons in the circumstances was present for me, but also a mourning of all that had been built over many years. But my mind and any mental rationale failed to explain how so much effort could lead to this moment. For a short period, I felt quite abandoned and alone, wondering and questioning everything about the future. I dove deep into personal shadow material which was trigged through this experience, and found that it was rich and worthwhile to spend time in the discomfort. Most of us welcome distraction, escape, addiction, procrastination and any easier route of hiding or not meeting these parts of ourselves.

In this space which made me question my purpose for the first time in years, I found solace in the most embodied way: through art. I had no more excuses for not taking time for my own personal art process, and began to dive deep into   investigation of art as a ritual, on a larger path of resilience. To bring accountability in my self-discipline, I decided to maintain a daily art piece with photographs and an affirmation (or sankalpa) to post through Sankalpa's various social media channels.

.MySankalpa is I am origin#
.MySankalpa is I am en route to the root#

The repetitive act of using materials from my surroundings to create a small world, to help make sense of my experience, has been incredibly therapeutic. I found and returned to a sense of stability within myself which I could not find in my external reality otherwise. I remembered that as a child facing significant trauma, it was the small arrangements of treasures on a makeshift altar that helped me feel a sense of control and power, to see glimpses of beauty, hope, awe and to begin to fathom the scale of my pain amidst the chaos and negativity surrounding me. So I remembered the essence and value of my life's work as an art therapist by experiencing it in a new way. I found meaning in the creation of microcosmic and impermanent installations. Sharing these images and the resonance with others has only been a secondary validation and source of connection.

In India, I surmise that many ritual arts evolved to exist as a coping mechanism for the challenges of surviving daily life. The metaphor in religious offerings is fascinating and layered, and I now recognize the loss I feel in seeing empty commercial adaptations of traditional understanding. The wisdom embedded in mandalas in all forms, kolams (ground drawings), henna patterns, embroidery, the painted markings on doorways and altars, is all infinitely rich in symbolism. The deeper meaning in these designs is one that provides a map for understanding reality and our small place within it. To remain in a sensitive space of wonder and be able to see beyond the surface can be both a burden and a blessing.

#MySankalpa is I am held.
Today I am grateful for fully and deeply experiencing loss, pain and the challenges of my pioneer effort which extracted me from the privileges of life in NYC and catapulted me back to the motherland, and most importantly, into the core of my being. It is a rare opportunity to dive willingly, sit with, and pass through such pain, to discover an incredibly fulfilling sense of resilience as well. To give myself permission to be vulnerable, humble and be present with not knowing is a practice in itself. As the art therapy gypsy, even if I am sitting still, I now see that I am always moving through something. Thanks for reading about my journey!

Follow the daily sankalpas and share your own with the tag #MySankalpa on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn, along with seeing our daily posts about our ongoing work and news about expressive arts therapy, gender issues, traditional art forms, and much more!

Art Break Day 2015: Vulnerability & Play

Art Break Day 2015: Vulnerability & Play

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. ―Brené Brown

For the third year in Auroville, Sankalpa hosted Art Break Day, a global community art event including 40+ sites in US, Mexico, Canada, France, Australia and India. Our volunteer crew itself was incredibly diverse, representing US, Australia, Chilé, France, and India!

 Many schoolchildren returned a year later, a little taller, less shy and eager to sit down and start painting on the theme “I am”. The combination of staying for an hour or longer and working together outdoors seemed conducive to tactile and spontaneous play with materials, including paper folding, paint prints, finger-painting and even inclusion of leaves. Many young Indian men challenged a gender-related taboo of making art and thanked me for the encouragement and permission to be creative. The fact that these opportunities were simultaneous is the intersection of humanity we are so lucky to experience in Auroville.

There was a moment in the late afternoon when a quiet concentration entered the public space. I looked around with a hand on my heart, amazed and so touched to see such a range of participants, families, volunteers, workers on their tea break, old and new friends, each immersed in their creative process. The artwork hung on strings all around the space were lightly moving in the breeze, dappled sunlight streaming in through the trees, and I was deeply inspired to see the true sense of human unity in these moments. I felt Auroville alive in its dream to bring people together this way, with art as a vehicle for this vision.

A surprising number of individuals are afraid to sit down and create, either scarred by an overly critical art teacher in their childhood, or simply giving up creative pursuits in adolescence. A safe, open and non-judgmental atmosphere establishes trust and encourages vulnerability, helping many to return to that pure and playful space within and begin to share it with others. As an introduction to the potential of art therapy, community art offers a less intimidating, interactive and positive path to self-awareness. To express oneself takes genuine openness, and when masks and barriers are let down, there is a palpable shift in energy. To witness and facilitate this open, original self-expression both publicly and collectively is remarkable.

Thank you to Lauren and Lisa of Art is Moving for bringing together artists around the world for another global event; to an incredible crew of volunteers including Sarah, Marie-Claire, Pragya, Kate, Lark, Paloma and Gaurav; for the tireless support of Iyyappan in making all Sankalpa dreams possible; for the fresh perspectives and enthusiasm of young local photographers Vinay Elumalai, Hari Prashanth of CMDZPro Studio; and G photons; to Marc and Dreamer’s Café team, Nicole of Visitor’s Center for the openness to provide this event for the third year in Auroville; to PCG and Stichting de Zaaier for helping us to feature the Art Cart, and especially to the 200+ brave artists of all ages expressing themselves all day.

Additional photos from the event in this album.

-Krupa for Sankalpa (a subunit of Thamarai)

SVA-NYC & Sankalpa

During a two-week intensive credit course on “Multicultural Issues in Art Therapy” with graduate students from NYC's School of Visual Arts (SVA), we explored humility and cultural understanding in many meaningful ways. Art was our common vehicle for meeting, playing, learning and reflecting realities. The common dynamic of an educated foreigner imposing knowledge onto the local population was reversed, consciously putting local women and children in positions of strength and leadership. Traditional art forms were explored and appreciated in new ways by all, facilitating empowerment and connection within short-term work together. Our exchange successfully provided experiential awareness of themes including hierarchy, power, privilege, poverty, disability, and biases; all regularly processed in supervision/class sessions. Each student brought curiosity, sensitivity and a presence that continues to have a positive ripple effect in and around our community.

One of many insights highlighted by this group (and particularly relevant to life in Auroville), is the deep connection between meditation and art therapy. Both aim to establish awareness and acceptance, often articulated without words. Especially within the context of community, awareness and acceptance of the self is just as important as discovering both in others. A meditation practice naturally evolved to be included several times throughout most days in the program, allowing us to joyously and collectively embody consciousness together.

Many joined us for our culminating process-based exhibition, including response pieces and the co-creation of a mandala with flowers and grains. Several Tamil neighbors entered Auroville for the first time in the role of participant instead of a worker, being able to engage in an art activity and gathering based in true equality among all ages, genders, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and cultures. I will accompany and present our work in NYC when this exhibition is replicated at SVA in NYC this October! We will collaborate with SVA in another program in the summer of 2016, and we invite inquiries about engaging more Aurovilians with these students.

Gratitude to Iyyappan Jayamurthy for coordination, organization and generous sharing of local wisdom; our angelic volunteer Sarah Wray from Australia for so naturally complementing our vision and needs; Ilango and Purushotem for smiling while supporting us throughout; Joy GH team for accommodating and integrating us into the campus community; to the students and faculty of the SVA MPS Art Therapy program for traveling here and opening the doors for mutual learning; to the women and staff of Life Education Center for our increasingly meaningful collaboration over the past 4 years; to the people of Bharatipuram/Kottakarai and other surrounding villages who bravely joined us at the Art Cart and events in the last two weeks; Kalsang & Namgyal for holding what we shared so spontaneously in the sacred Pavilion of Tibetan Culture; Rubi & Shilpi for help with saris, Edo for photos; and to the extended community of Auroville for welcoming and providing the platform for this exchange to be possible.

This program was a long-envisioned dream in recent years, and the first major effort in a more active bridge between my life in NYC and Auroville. If this much is possible with our art center still in progress (but nearly there!), imagine the possibilities once we finally have our own base for activities. Looking forward to deepening this global intention of mutual learning through art in the coming months and years!

-Krupa for Sankalpa: Art Journeys,
a sub-unit of Thamarai, Auroville
(See photos/updates on our Facebook page & SVA's series of blog posts on our program).

BINDU: Unity through Art

The bindu is the sacred center and beginning mark of creation, the point around which the microcosmic mandala representing the universe is drawn. In metaphor, this circle traces and holds a story of two people meeting through their unique yet universal expression. Let this art journey be an opportunity to experience the joy of art-making, and the gift of connecting and collaborating with another individual!

To join us and participate in the Bindu mandala exchange, please follow these simple directions:

1) Draw a circle with a diameter of about 10" (25.5 cm) if possible. A compass or plate can be used to make the circle. You can work larger or smaller, but try to use a heavier stock of blank paper. This provides a supportive foundation for whatever expression follows.

2) Fold and cut the mandala in half, and choose one individual to dive into this shared creative experience with you. We are interested in seeing how art bridges realities, so try and choose someone different than you and try to meet them through your imagery. Optional: include a dot in the center which is visible on both sides, to help facilitate a bridging point.

3) You can work together or separately, and with any media you prefer. You can include imagery, patterns, colors and words; drawn with pencils, markers, painted, with collage, etc.. Remember there is no right or wrong! If you work together, you can choose to look at each other's images and take inspiration from motifs, colors and details to help them become part of a whole.

4) Marvel in your creation, join the pieces and take a moment to share with each other, even if you did not create together. You can reflect about anything related to the creative process, personal symbolism, insights, surprises and/or the final result, all in a non-judgmental atmosphere.

Bindu #1: Krupa Jhaveri (left) & Kate Friedman (right)
5) Take a well-lit (preferably high-resolution) picture of your combined mandala and please share it with us either here on our Facebook page or mailed to 

Please include your names, ages, locations, and a title or any description of the art/experience. We will create a virtual gallery of the images you send to us!

Thank you for taking the time to bring your original expression forward, both for yourself, your co-creator and for all those who will soon be able to enjoy what you have shared. Wishing you a happy art journey!

Art Break Day 2014: Wish!

Art Break Day is a community art event which occurs in locations around the world on the first Friday in September, including 29 sites this year in Mexico, the Netherlands and the US. It is sponsored by the US-based non-profit, Art is Moving.
Vivid wish at ART Break Day 2014: India! Copyright: EG Photography, All Rights Reserved.

“All art requires courage.” –Anne Tucker

For the second event in Auroville, we saw dozens hesitating to sit down, particularly adults claiming they are “bad at this kind of thing”. With encouragement, many were able to gradually open up and express themselves. In the morning, school groups of children (including TLC, Deepanam and LEC), came one after another with creative ideas on the theme "wish". Some were personal, including many dreams of flight or flying, and a common hope to have colorful, cooling ice cream on a hot day; while others wished for peace, happiness, love, kindness and for the preservation of nature around the world.

Three wishes for our planet at ART Break Day 2014: India! One for saving our trees, another for a flying superhero to remove all ocean
pollution, and a third hoping for kindness and sharing between all people! 
Copyright: EG Photography, All Rights Reserved.

Of nearly 300 participants, some commented on how it brought connection and concentration to the community in a very special and positive way. Throughout a day filled with activity and creation, there was actually a precious and dynamic silence. Just as last year, we saw adults and children, Tamil villagers and Aurovilians, single-day guests and long-term volunteers all sitting down together to create. This remains a very unique interaction bridged by the universality of art.

Women expressing freely at ART Break Day 2014: India! Copyright: EG Photography, All Rights Reserved.

There was also a moment I looked around and saw a cat, several dogs snuggling up against tables, birds in the surrounding trees, people moving and painting, and I really felt the blissful harmony of the atmosphere on this day. And amazingly, exactly like last year, the moment we packed up the materials, heavy rain came pouring down!

My effort to share art therapy and events like Art Break Day in Auroville is called Sankalpa, which is a Sanskrit word for intention or affirmation. In the last four years here, I have helped many individuals to express wishes and dreams and combine them with creativity to help manifest them. Ultimately, Art Break Day is my own wish coming true, to be able to provide a supportive open space and access to the tools for creative expression. Community art is an important foundation for the deeper work of art therapy.

Copyright: EG Photography, All Rights Reserved.
Thank you to the incredible team of volunteers including Gaurav, Rosa, Jagruti, Marisa, Lisa, Florence and Selena; to Edo of EG Photography for capturing the day in another form of art as photographs; to Nicole, Selvam and friends at Visitor’s Center for welcoming this event for a second year; to Lauren & Lisa of Art is Moving for facilitating this art revolution in 29 sites around the world; and to each and every brave artist who came by and participated, whether for 10 minutes or 2 hours! Looking forward to offering many more bridges through art in our community.

With colorful gratitude,
Krupa Jhaveri
Sankalpa Founder & International Art Therapist
Twitter: @sankalpaart

ART BREAK DAY India: Connection & Color!

When I left my comfortable life in NYC to move to India, my motivation was a vision for facilitating the arts for insight, empowerment and connection, to develop bridges between cultures. This one-day community art event was the realization of that dream on the largest scale since the journey began about four years ago.

Copyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights Reserved

Over 200 individuals participated on September 6th by experiencing an "Art Break"; sitting down to openly express themselves with tempera paints, oil pastels, markers, pencils, recycled paper and more. Each table next to the Dreamer's Café in the Visitor's Center in Auroville was a moving sculpture throughout the day; as children, adolescents and adults from many different cultures sat down together to make art for free. Friends from our local (yet international) community of Auroville visited, including student groups from New Creation Montessori (including 41 students under six years old!), Deepanam, The Learning Community, Life Education Centre, a visiting group from Jain University in Bangalore, the US-college semester group Living Routes, and the German year-long Weltwaert's volunteers. Workers from nearby shops and offices visited, even if on a tea break, eager to put a brush to paper and collect an Art-In-Your-Pocket gift (a small hand-assembled art kit). Supportive well-wishers passed by to give a hug and marvel at the hanging art, and countless timid visitors were encouraged to sit down and join in the color-filled activities.

Copyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights Reserved

I have overwhelming gratitude for the US-based organization, Art is Moving, which sponsored and generously made this event possible in 19 sites around the world on the same day! “As an artist I believe it is my job to create a world where art is accessible to anyone and everyone. Art is not for the few and the privileged. It is for those who have something to say,” according to Lauren Odell Usher Sharpton, co-founder of Art is Moving (along with Lisa Rasmussen).

During a 2009 survey of 80+ locations in India and Nepal (for potential applications of art therapy), I met children who had never used colored paints before, in a remote Nepali village called Sirubadi. With a small set of poster colors, banana leaf slices as palettes and a few brushes, we covered the interior walls of a mud hut structure with families of animals, shapes and scenes. I humbly learned the importance of providing basic resources in order for creative expression to be possible. $500 USD of art supplies were generously sent from the US specifically for the Art Break Day event, which were greatly appreciated by all!

Copyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights ReservedCopyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights ReservedCopyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights Reserved

Auroville was a fitting location for this event as the guiding Dream for our community includes this harmonious message: “Artistic beauty in all forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, will be available equally to all, the opportunity to share in the joys they bring being limited solely by each one's capacities and not by social or financial position."

Copyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights Reserved

As a common ground, transcending languages and barriers between cultures around the world, the arts offer a space for connection, interaction and meaningful exchange. The most uplifting aspect of the event was witnessing smiling faces of so many different ages, races and background sitting down to create in simple togetherness; in some visible form of human unity (the intention behind Auroville).
Copyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights Reserved
Copyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights ReservedCopyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights Reserved

I hope to celebrate many more similar gatherings in the future and already looking forward to next year! With many thanks to Nicole, Marc and friends at the Visitor’s Centre; Kasha of Pondy ART and Miriam of Auroville Radio for helping to spread the word; and an amazing team of volunteers: Edo (all photos copyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, all rights reserved), Zeevic, Masoom, Shishir, Marie-Claire, B, Xavier, Payal, Iyyappan, Loli, Ganda and Leela (face painter). And again, gratitude to Lauren & Lisa of Art is Moving for making the first Art Break Day in India possible!

With love, light and color,

Krupa (
Sankalpa: Art Journeys

Copyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights ReservedCopyright: Edoardo Grassi Photography, All Rights Reserved

Artist Residency in China

Recently I have presented the ongoing work in south India at various conferences and gatherings on art therapy around the world. In November of 2012, I presented at the Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC and this May I shared an exploration of tradition and therapy at the International Conference on Art Therapy, in Shenzen, China. I was fortunate to meet and exchange with art therapists, colleagues, educators and collaborators in related fields around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Africa, Europe, Australia and beyond.

With Cathy Malchiodi in Shenzen, China

After this workshop, I spent one month in an artist residency program at Da Wang Cultural Highland outside of Shenzen. In this lush mountain art village setting, a deeper personal process was able to emerge. As an art therapist, it was an act of radical self-care to spend this time focused solely on my own experience of materials and the creative journey. I appreciated the importance of basic needs when making art, including resources and the safe container necessary to express oneself.

Mountain range view in Guandong Province, near Shenzen, China
Through a series of mandalas created in this new environment, personal and collective archetypes emerged in a series of birds. The birds emerged as a set of guardians, gurus, and companions with relevant messages in a visual story. I developed a set of six mandalas referencing the chakras, basic corresponding colors, and symbolism through each different type of bird. Through gouache painting, embroidery, beadwork, printmaking and various recycled and mixed media, I found the basis for a future children’s book about the creative literacy process I have shared as the basis of my art therapy work around the world. In the story, a young bird named Hue experiences each color through interactions with other birds, and discovers the deeper significance of each both for himself and on a larger scale. If funding is secured for fully developing the story, I hope to publish it next year.

A mandala painting series in progress in the studio at Da Wang.
Please see much more about the journey in China through many photos captured during the trip here.

Inner voice, outer voice.

My journals are filled with words and art, a series of soul scrapbook pages filled with experiments where my hands coalesce the many facets of my ever-changing identity. Yet this blog, in the visible cyber ether, remains neglected. I find myself bridging cultures, generations, individuals, groups in such varieties of settings, and still patiently attempting to integrate the material and immaterial.

Being born in Denver, Colorado was a privilege with challenges, a scenic landscape with mountains as high as the barriers against minorities. I moved over 20 times and experienced 14 schools mostly in Colorado, California, and New York (Long Island and later Manhattan). My education and work experience were fortunate, as the foundation for true evolution beyond the conventional. Three years ago I decided to leave the perceived luxuries of the West to reinvent my life while mingling and reconnecting with my ethnic roots in the East. At the same age my parents married and moved from Gujarat to Colorado, I left NYC to survey over 80 locations in India and Nepal for potential applications of art therapy.

Now facing the daily challenges of manifesting my dreams, I am reflective about the ongoing transformation since I left the US. Physically, my body has struggled to adapt to new environments, recently recovering from a month of typhoid fever. Emotionally, my inner state has changed an infinite number of times, but spiritually, I have found peace and self-awareness in solitude and through interactions with others. Mentally, I am continuously processing the path in my journals, and occasionally transcending the limitations of the mind through writing, art, and meditation. While recently traveling outside of my latest comfort zone, I found invaluable perspective and realized the importance of sharing this journey.

Book Launch, Interview & Film

Today is the book launch for the first Sankalpa publication, a bilingual book which includes stories written by Edayanchavadi village children about hand-sewn affirmation dolls they created in art therapy sessions between December 2010 and May 2011. Please send inquiries for available copies to and continue to follow updates on Sankalpa on the website and Facebook page.

This summer, Persephone magazine interviewed me on my journey into Art Therapy and visions for the future. Special thanks to Coco Papy. Preview an excerpt below and read the whole interview here.

"Krupa Jhaveri is a woman who believes in the Anne Turner saying that all art takes courage. As the creator and founder of Sankalpa, an art therapy organization, Krupa’s work has brought the benefits and healing power of art therapy to those who often have the least access to it...Saying she is dedicated to her work would be an understatement and one often has to look hard for the exact words to describe all the ways in which she is reaching out to touch people with her work."

I am also honored that art therapy pioneer Judith Rubin included my work in her recent film on International Art Therapy: A Universal Language for Healing. Some photos from my 2009 survey of India and Nepal can be seen in the clip on Expressive Media.

Journal Entry for Levi's & TED India

For those who still enjoy reading that which is written by hand and from the heart, please dive into this collage journal entry I created for a collaboration between Levi's and TED India. The physical pages are part of a book which was recently displayed at the TED Global conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, and a digital version is available for download within the online mentorship community, Shape What's To Come.





"The inspiring, personal narrative of Krupa Jhaveri, one of the many amazing young women of Shape What's To Come, supported by Levi's."

Sankalpa in action!

After months of preparation and intention, I have returned to India. I am grateful for all of the support and following of Sankalpa: Art Journeys. The image below shows a sample of some art supplies bought with generous donations. While working in India, I am using technology to update those interested, hoping to encourage investment in the vision as it unfolds.

One of the 80+ stops in my previous travel survey was Auroville, an international township dedicated to the realization of human unity. Auroville is located near Pondicherry in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu. A utopian living experiment established in the 1960s, it is a fascinating and stimulating microcosm of our global reality. In everyday life here, I eat locally grown and organic food prepared in a communal solar-powered kitchen. I drive a converted electric moped, which I simply charge overnight in a standard electric socket. Available each week are a variety of activities including yoga, meditation, dance, music, cooking, movies, exhibitions, lectures and workshops. In many ways this enriching atmosphere contributes to my personal evolution, by providing access to people and information from around the world. And am currently living behind a local family home while working in the nearby villages.

In these first weeks, I have connected with a variety of individuals and groups receptive to art therapy. As planned, I am working at Thamarai community center, located in the nearby Edayanchavadi village. The children attend an after school program including arts and handicrafts (1st to 3rd standard), and I am starting a regular weekend group specifically centered on art therapy. I have also been referred for a Child Protection Services case to assist with a family conflict through art therapy (as part of a team). I will soon be introducing art therapy to adolescent girls receiving life skills and support at the Life Education Center, as well as the staff of Village Action, which has outreach to 80 surrounding villages (both women and men). Outside of village work, I am also joining forces with a compassionate living community within Auroville to offer art therapy as part of a nonviolent communication retreat. The variety and scope of experience being offered here is very exciting for an emerging international art therapist!

Sankalpa: Art Journeys!

My dreams are becoming more real everyday, and you are part of them. I have had a compelling vision to share Art Therapy in India, with the extended family of my heritage (though we are all connected as part of a larger whole). This blog has been the space for me to explore and articulate this vision, and will continue as a more personal account of this journey.

After a very challenging and humbling seven months of travel in India and Nepal surveying locations last year, I returned to the US to process and collect resources before returning to a village community center this November. Any donations for sustainable art supplies are greatly appreciated and can be made via PayPal here:

As this vision builds, please be sure to join, follow updates, and find more information through these links:


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The logo is a map for collaboration and integration and I invite any of you to contact me with your ideas for expanding or deepening this vision. I am currently looking for assistance in sorting hundreds of travel photos, and those with expertise in establishing a non-profit status.