When the student is ready the teacher will appear: How Sonia Sareen learnt the art of micro mosaics to drive positive changes around her
It isn't often that you meet a person who embodies the spirit of "If you don't go after what you want, you will never have it" and 56-year-old artist, interior designer, mosaicist, sculptor and stained-glass artist Sonia Sareen is just the right cheerleader for the adage.
Sonia Sareen at a glass blowing workshop
Micro mosaics, sustainability, and the learning curve
Just before the COVID-19 induced lockdown commenced, Sonia returned from Turkey armed with her newly learnt skill set, the ancient art of micro mosaics, which dates back to the Renaissance period.
Sareen flew to Turkey to learn micro mosaics from the Italian master in mosaic art, Dino Maccini. During her time there she learnt the ancient method of creating three-dimensional micro mosaic artworks in natural stones, which was practised by the ancient mosaic masters.
The facade at the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra
This art is created by using a three-dimensional substrate, preparing tesserae from natural stones, marble and smaltis glass with a hammer and hardie and then placing the pre-cut pieces over the substrate in creative designs.
"I have a diverse portfolio of work with different mediums. I am also a recycler as I experiment with leftovers from completed projects to create more art,” she says. Her gems, made out of leftover materials include mostly pieces of glass, tiles, stone, crockery, jewellery, metal scraps, wood, acrylic, to name a few.
“I have always loved working on small projects rather than working on larger pieces. It became easier to work with scraps than with readymade material which offers no challenge for micro-work. This kind of work also allows me to do my bit towards sustainability which is evident in most of my work.”
Working with a tutor
Sonia Sareen with Dino Maccini
The big leap towards micro mosaics happened with her chancing upon Dino Maccini's exquisite creations. “They say when the student is ready the teacher appears. The time spent in his company and tutelage raised the bar, and since then, I have been smitten by micro mosaics,” shares Sonia.
Sonia began working on mosaics oblivious to the pandemic chaos. She locked herself in her studio and discovered newer mediums for micro mosaics and wove them into her canvasses to create stunning artwork.
Sonia's stained-glass lamp
“For me, art is a reflection of your inner universe and I am grateful that this global pause gave me the opportunity to rediscover, reboot, re-organise and reinvent myself and my space,” says Sonia who believes that art can be an enabler and drive positive changes for everybody.
The poetry of pottery
Sonia, who began her career with studio pottery in Kolkata in the 1980s, went on to train at The School of Visual Arts, New York. She also went to Singapore, Bali, Brazil and learnt from some of the world's best artists.
"You know, I was adopted by a potter’s family and I used my training to make life-size handcrafted pots, a rarity in those days in India" reveals Sonia, who exhibited her works in Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi to an enamoured audience and eventually shifted base to Delhi for a course for Interior designing.
The niche and the muse
Studio Pottery, Ceramics, Cold Ceramics, Stained Glass, Picassiette, Mosaics, Figurative Glass Paintings, Fusing and Slumping and Metal Sculptures are some of the art forms she is adept at.
Always keen to experiment, she has not only learnt and mastered them, but she also went on to train her own staff as well as students of art through her workshops. “I feel the only way to continue learning is to teach. I always feel I am the one learning from my students,” says Sonia.
She may have dabbled in many art-forms and excelled at each one of them, but Sonia is renowned for her impeccable stained-glass work.
Exhibitions and styles
Over the years her work has been exhibited across the country and has found several places of pride in residences of industrialists such as Sunil Bharti Mittal, KP Singh of DLF, and many more.
Sonia Sareen's glass ceiling art
Her work also adorns the walls of Yellow Brick Road at the Taj Ambassador, New Delhi and more recently at the Manekshaw Centre and Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra.
She has also worked in the luxury segment and a great example of her work is the Venetian mirrors at the Maharaja and Maharani suites of Rambagh Palace Hotel and Sawai Man Mahal in Jaipur.
Art is like meditation
In these extraordinary times, when people are downsizing and making do with a lesser workforce, she continues to employ her entire workforce giving them a means to earn and an opportunity to create new products for the market.
She is also currently taking up many more projects for homes, luxury spaces and offices. “The time that I spend at creating art is very meditative and this mindset is reflected in my creative pursuits,” says Sonia.
(Images credit: Sonia Sareen)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)