A high school student with big dreams to become an artist and open her own studio, Ananya was looking for a creative experience that was different from the usual drawing and painting she does every day in school. So when her mother discovered VAWAA while crossing paths with prior VAWAA guest Sarika on a cruise ship in Antarctica, she knew this was the creative adventure she had been seeking.
Before long, Ananya had booked her mandala weaving VAWAA with Cloe in Majorca, where she would have the chance to learn an entirely new artistic medium while getting to experience Cloe’s daily life as an artist. Ananya spent several days in the charming town of Alcudia with her family, weaving mandalas and learning how to use color and thread to express herself. Now she’s brought back the art form and is sharing it with her school and friends back home.
We sat down with Ananya and her mother, Garima, to chat about her experience with Cloe, her dreams for the future, and how learning mandala weaving has impacted her artwork.*
Why don’t you start by sharing a bit about yourself. Where are you from?
Ananya: I’m from Bangalore, India, and I’m currently in the twelfth grade in Indus international school. I enjoy doing art, music, languages, and traveling especially.
How did you find out about VAWAA?
Garima: We like to collect experiences when we travel, and I was actually on a cruise to Antarctica earlier this year. And one of the fellow travelers is someone you’ve featured on VAWAA, Sarika. So we got talking, and she said “I’m staying back and I’m going to this Street Art VAWAA.” And I remember I emailed Ananya from there. I said please look this site up. And she was very excited. And as it was, we were planning a trip around March, and we said okay what should we do this summer, and Ananya said here’s what I want to do, a VAWAA. So we got to hear about VAWAA through Sarika. Isn’t it such a small world?
What were you hoping to find or achieve on your Mandala Weaving VAWAA with Cloe?
Ananya: It was certainly learning new things. But it was also trying to express myself through the mandalas that I made, which I did. And I was curious to get a feel for what Cloe does and the different things she does.
Garima: Ananya is very good with her hands in making stuff. She’s obviously looking for a career in fine arts, and we were looking at something that was not the regular run-of-the-mill painting or illustration, because she gets to do a lot of that while at school. And while browsing the VAWAA site we looked at Cloe and the way she was represented and the beautiful, colorful mandalas, I think she decided that’s what she wanted to do.
What are some dreams you have for the future?
Ananya: Probably traveling the world and opening up my own studio. A studio cum gallery, like a museum. In Alcudia maybe. I know for sure my life will be centered around art.
Garima: When she went to Cloe’s house, she came back all excited, saying “That’s the life I want, she has such a cool home, she has dogs, and she has this colorful studio...I don’t mind doing this for a living.” We’ll see where life takes her but those are some of her dreams.
How did you spend your days during your VAWAA? What sort of routine did you have?
Ananya: Cloe picked me up around 9 every morning in her cute yellow car, and we went to the studio. And she talked to me the first day about the place, and what she does with her work. Every day she would sit down with me before we started and we reflected upon the previous day and what I did in her studio. She just talked to me about the whole thing and what she wanted me to focus on today. So for day one, I focused on learning how to put the sticks together, choosing the right colors, just meditating for a while. So I think that was day one. And then the days after that we just did it. We just kept making the mandalas, then talking about it, talking about how the place is, what she does every day, just generally. And then she would drop me back at 2:30 or 3pm everyday.
Tell us more about what it was like working with Cloe in the studio.
Ananya: It was absolutely amazing. It was really creative and fun. Other than the mandalas, she also taught me color schemes, she taught me the thought process before the mandala, after the mandala, and she taught me how to express my emotions through the colors in the mandala, which was really helpful to me as an artist. She’s really warm and welcoming, and she’s really interactive.
Garima: Very warm, which I think made the whole experience beautiful. We obviously didn’t know what to expect--we thought it would be a very formal arrangement, you know, but Cloe turned out to be an amazingly warm person, and I think that she connected very well with Ananya, more like friends, and I think Ananya cherishes that a lot. Cloe just welcomed her in her home so much, gave her so much to eat, and really just treated us like another person in her house. And Ananya was playing with the dogs, and actually just felt very much at home. She’s a very, very warm and genuine person. So I think that made Ananya enjoy it even more, because of who Cloe is.
What sort of inspiration did you use for the mandalas you made?
Ananya: It was actually a mix of a few things. I was debating between the ocean and the sunset for the colors. But I think I chose the ocean because it was closer to me at that point. I made two mandalas, a huge one and a tiny one. The first one was the ocean, and the second one was about the place around me. Just Cloe’s house and the environment and everything.
How to weave!
What was the town of Alcudia and the surrounding area like?
Garima: I think we could have stayed in Alcudia a little longer. It’s a small, quaint little beautiful village. I think ideal for a holiday, a getaway. A quaint little town where you can walk anywhere, bike anywhere, sit anywhere. Sit by the beach in tiny little cafes. Beautiful shops which had such amazing antique arty stuff. So we loved that. Cloe told us places to go, things to do, she gave us a map and she said maybe you should not go to these crowded beaches. We were there for just three or four days, so she made it easy for us. She gave us tips for small cute beaches without a lot of tourists or crowds.
Ananya: She gave us really small villages to visit, places to eat. Not the tourist side but more of the experience side.
As an artist who practices a lot of other art forms, how do you think learning mandala weaving has affected your other artwork?
Ananya: The thought process and the colors, and choosing the right colors with your emotion. That has certainly helped me, as I’m going to pursue therapy art as well. So I think those two come into play.
How have you continued your mandala practice back home?
Ananya: When I came back to India and I introduced the mandala concept to my school, this was a new thing in India, so they want me to do an installation at school for them with all my mandalas and talk about it at school. As part of my International Baccalaureate at school, I’m supposed to do one installation at the end, so they want me to present my mandala in a creative way. As you know, mandalas are a Mexican tradition, how they make one circle every year after a child is born. So I’m planning to do something about children and growing up and put my mandala through it, and try to express my thoughts and feelings through the colors through the whole process. And I’m also doing a presentation next week about this to my class.
*Comments have been lightly edited for clarity and length