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Member Spotlight

Get to know some of your fellow LCC volunteers:

Sunanda Sahay, Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council

Members of ABCC meet Senator Eldridge

Sunanda has been a member of the Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council (ABCC) for three years and is currently a co-chair of the council. Volunteering on the council, Sunanda found artists and entrepreneurs from different walks of life congregating, and finding mutual support and inspiration through one another. Sunanda realized that the council was not only a resource for supporting diverse events, but was itself a sub-community of creative talents and community leaders. She became an ardent supporter and contributor of the ABCC, and plans to continue her participation across its broad range of cultural activities.

Sunanda is also a recipient of the 2015 MCC Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program grant and a 2010 MCC Traditional Arts Finalist. Traditional Arts Apprenticeships support the time-honored method of which an individual learns skills, techniques, and artistry under the guidance of a recognized master artist. One of the goals of the Apprenticeship Program is to help communities preserve their own cultural heritage. The 2015 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program grant allowed Sunanda to work with Apprentice Sanjana Krishna in the North Indian Traditional Art of Madhubani painting.

Sunanda and Sanjana show a painting of the Hindu goddess of knowledge

Sunanda has been painting for almost 20 years in the Madhubani/Mithila style special to her home region. She has become well-known in Acton and Boxborough for her paintings, which have even graced the offices of the statehouse. Her Apprentice, Sanjana sought Sunanda out to learn to draw and color in the Madhubani form as well as to learn more about appreciating the cultural and religious meanings behind the symbolism in the paintings. She is also learning to mix paints from plant and mineral materials using traditional methods. As Sanjana starts to incorporate her own personal interests and impressions into her artwork, she is also focusing on honoring the overall history and evolution of the art form as it has been practiced in Northern India.

Performers at Essence of India Festival

In 2012, Sunanda founded Essence of India. The cultural festival celebrates and honors Indian culture, in its wide range of variations and historical, cultural, and scientific achievements. Participants enjoy demonstrations and exhibits of a broad range of India's culture including traditional crafts, food, local history, and information about regional differences. The annual festival takes places at NARA Park in Acton and is supported by the Cultural Councils of Acton-Boxborough, Concord, Lexington, Littleton, Shrewsbury, and Westford.

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Daphne Board, Holyoke Cultural Council

Artist Daphne Board and her custom-made shoes

How long have you served on the council?
I was just appointed to the Holyoke Cultural Council this past January, so I am very new to the Council.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Recently I had the opportunity to help facilitate the activation of a performance space that was once the theater for early-20th century mill workers at the Farr Alpaca Company in downtown Holyoke. An avant-garde dance company needed help getting the space habitable for a couple of weekend shows; I worked alongside other Cultural Council members to clean and organize the space.

What do you do outside of volunteering on your LCC?
I have volunteered with Holyoke civic and arts organizations and when I am not volunteering for the HCC I have my own business making leather shoes and bags.

Are you an artist, scientist or humanist? And if so, can you tell us more about your work?
I've been making custom handmade shoes for the past ten years, so I consider myself a traditional craftsperson. I build shoes from the ground up, taking measurements and tracings of my clients' feet and working with clients to design the shoes that best suit their needs and style. Making shoes is a long, detailed process that generally takes a month or two from initial design conception to the finished pair of shoes. Being able to make people with hard-to-fit feet comfortable and happy is an incredibly rewarding trade.

Do you have any hobbies or talents that someone would be surprised to learn about you?
Most people are generally surprised when they learn what I do for a living! I think my other hobbies/talents are pretty routine (cooking, gardening, etc).

Do you have a favorite song?
Hard question! I have favorite artists, certainly. One favorite song is difficult to pin down. Cryin'-and-ironin' country music tends to go well with working in the shoe shop!

Check out www.daphneboard.com

Left photo, Daphne Board and her brick racecar, "Cyclops", from the second annual Great Holyoke Brick Race (GHBR).The GHBR is sponsored by the Holyoke Cultural Council. Right photos, lime and parrot derby shoes created by the artist.

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Naomi Brave, Malden Cultural Council

Naomi Brave standing under her knit Plutempathy sculpture

How long have you served on the council?
Two years.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I love seeing what people in my community are up to, and I also love being able to help fund these great arts and cultural projects in my community.

What do you do outside of volunteering on your LCC?
My day job is the Coordinator of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at Harvard University. I work for multi-disciplinary scientists on very small (nano) but big things. In my volunteer life, I co-founded Malden Arts in 2005, which keeps me very busy with Window Arts Malden, a quarterly Salon Series, and the Malden Switchbox Project. I also serve on a steering committee working with local artists and the City of Malden to start a Malden Community Art Center, as well as sitting on the Malden Garden Tour committee. I used to volunteer for Bike to the Sea, but resigned from the board two years ago to focus on arts related projects. And....if there is any time left in the day I work in my ceramics studio, and knit things from clothing to the "Plutempathy" sculpture you see in the photo.

Are you an artist, scientist or humanist? And if so, can you tell us more about your work?
I am a ceramic artist, which means I am also a bit of a scientist. I work in stoneware, and mostly make tiles. I used to own Brave Clay Tileworks in Somerville, MA from 1989-2002. My recent clay work led me to build a Raku kiln last summer, which I use to make Raku and Sagar fired tiles. I also am an avid knitter, and am part of a weekly Stitch n' Bitch in Malden.

Do you have any hobbies or talents that someone would be surprised to learn about you?
Gardening (no surprise to close friends), swimming, yoga, and I am an ex-professional chef.

Do you have a favorite song?
Oh gosh... there are so many.

Photo, Naomi Brave standing under her knit "Plutempathy" sculpture

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