Gurudarshan Khalsa '99

"I use intuition as the basis for inspiration when I’m photographing the world around me."

- Gurudarshan Khalsa '99
At what age did you start studying art?

I started studying art in 10th grade. I’d spent the previous summer out in New Mexico, and I was fascinated with how you could see storms moving through the sky from afar. I had borrowed a camera, and after looking through the viewfinder, I realized that I loved the concept of capturing the beauty and power of nature through photography. I took an after-school class on darkroom photography at the Spruill Center for the Arts and I took Art as part of my IB Diploma at AIS. I got to explore alternative photographic processes in the AIS class and loved it! I continued my study of art at the University of Georgia in the Photography Department.
How did your art change when you began to use it therapeutically?

After college, I became a freelance commercial photographer. I photographed for yoga magazines and books as well as did lots of portrait, event and wedding photography. I then became an assistant at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, where I learned from many photographic masters.

In September 2013, I sustained a concussion with intense symptoms from an accident at work. It took many months before I could pick up a camera again or digitally edit my work. In my quest for healing, I worked with a shaman who encouraged me to use the creative process to help me heal. In the months to follow, I delved into the visual language of symmetry. I went through my photographic archives from the previous 10 years and created new symmetrical compositions through Photoshop.

I didn’t realize until months later that creating this artwork was extremely healing to my brain. My brain was out of balance, and looking at compositions that were balanced, calmed and soothed me. This art was medicine. As you look at the pieces, they become living meditations and have the capacity to heal.
Where do you get most of your inspiration for your pieces?

I use intuition as the basis for inspiration when I’m photographing the world around me. I see what presents itself to me. I am attracted to patterns in nature, beauty, reflections, the female form, and moments of creation. When I do my post-processing to create symmetry, I usually go through every image from a shoot and see what images create magic when they are mirrored. I create lots of composite layers once I see that the basis of a composition works. It’s a process of finding the perfect composition and something that pleases me.
What are you doing these days besides your art?

I have been living in Santa Fe, New Mexico and have been showing my work throughout the state at the Laughing Horse Gallery in Taos, at the Metallo Gallery in Madrid and at Body in Santa Fe. I was accepted into the Santa Fe Society of Artists, so I spend half the year selling my art in downtown Santa Fe. It’s an amazing way to share my work with the world and get to meet my collectors first-hand. Not only do I sell my work, but I also get other amazing opportunities like getting my work into the Teller Street Gallery and Bloom Gallery in Colorado.

I was invited to do an artist residency program on the Big Island in Hawaii in the winter of 2014/2015, and I am pursuing my intention of using my art to heal. The Aurora Center for Mental Health just acquired one of my pieces, and it will be used to help the patients reach calm and balance. My goal is to share my work with the world of health and wellness through doctor’s offices and hospitals as well as yoga and retreat centers.

Editor’s Note:
After graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in Photography, Gurudarshan Khalsa began her career as many freelance photographers do, shooting portraits and events as well as photos for publications. Her artistic journey then took a different turn. Following a move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, several years ago, Khalsa sustained a traumatic head injury that ultimately changed what art meant to her.

Originally published in the Winter 2015 Global Exchange.

Atlanta International School

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