Manjari Sharma (b. 1979) is a photographer born and raised in Mumbai, India, now based in Brooklyn, New York. Her images have appeared in such publications as Forbes India Magazine, Vogue India, Geo Magazine, online at NPR, New York Times, Huffington Post, PDN and Life Magazine.
Her series Darshan aims to photographically recreate various classical images of Gods and Goddesses pivotal to mythological stories in Hinduism. Printed on a massive scale, photographs will be presented in an elaborate installation closely resembling the experience of a Hindu temple, complete with incense, lamps, and invocations.
Darshan will be on view September 12th through October 12th 2013 at ClampArt Gallery in New York City.
Culturalite: Tell us a bit about yourself
Manjari Sharma: Well, you can take a girl out of Mumbai, but you can’t take Mumbai out of a girl. I was born and raised in the East and have spent a significant part of the last decade in the West. That has resulted in some incredible cultural and reverse-cultural experiences. Project Darshan, in particular, had me return to India four times within the past year and a half. In other news I have a gorgeous one-year-old who inspires me to love life more everyday.
Culturalite: Tell us about your inspiration for your current project Darshan.
Manjari Sharma: Darshan began with a drive to experiment. I definitely found myself realizing that the medium that I spend so much time around has not really been utilized so much for the purpose of cultural preservation. I had always seen sculptures and paintings, but rarely, if ever, had encountered a photograph of a God or a Goddess done with intricate detailing. In addition, as I studied the project further, it was amazing to me how great the similarity was between a museum and a temple. Growing up in India, visiting temples with my family was a common practice, but while studying fine art, going to museums became second nature. Forming lines, waiting in anticipation for a Darshan of the artist’s work. The commonality in the process was very intriguing.
Culturalite: What is your creative process? Describe what goes into the creation of your work.
Manjari Sharma: My process starts with research, followed by sketches and finding the appropriate team members that can help me sculpt my images into reality. The crew for ‘Darshan’ ranged from 25-35 people, comprised of painters, carpenters, jewelry experts, prop and set-construction artists and assistants. It was really a team effort.
Culturalite: What’s the best creative advice you’ve ever received?
Manjari Sharma: A photographer once told me, when you are lying in your grave, and people are standing around you, talking about you, maybe you’ll hear some of them say, ‘Wow, she was a great girl, but an awful photographer.’ Or maybe you will hear them say ‘She was an incredible photographer, but a horrible human being.’ But, you may just hear them say ‘She was a good artist and a good person.’ Whatever you want to hear them say then, start making them say it now. I think the creative process is nourished by the quality of life you chose to live, which is decided by the type of person you want to be and the way you treat those around you.
Culturalite: If you had to live inside a work of art or a song, which would it be and why?
Manjari Sharma: It would be any of Edward Hoppers paintings. The subjects in his paintings are so perfectly trapped between their mood and the shadows. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like them often.
Culturalite: What are you reading and listening to right now?
Manjari Sharma: I am reading American Veda by Phil Goldberg, and I’m listening to Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma.
Culturalite: What is next for you?
Manjari Sharma: I’m really fascinated by Glass Plates right now and I’d love to learn more about the collodion process. Additionally I’ve been slowly working on a project on parenthood and reflection, so you might see some of that on the websites soon.http://manjarisharma.com/
Interview by Anna Ross