Dr. Sreelatha Varma’s “Dream” benefits Family House
Posted March 17, 2017 in News Category
As a child, Dr. Sreelatha Varma grew up in a modest household in India. Her father instilled philanthropic values. He pledged 70 percent of the family’s income to supporting or developing charities for blind children, educating orphans, and other causes. Dr. Varma recalls asking for a dress as a child. “He would look at me and say, ‘Do you need it or want it,’” Dr. Varma said. “It was not an absolute necessity.” That mindset – that upbringing – has paved a path for Dr. Varma’s life.
A self-taught artist, she began painting as a teenager in India. She developed her skillset in painting throughout her lifetime, which included medical school to become a primary care physician with SLUCare Physician Group. On March 31, her latest show called “Dream” will open at Grafica Fine Art & Custom Framing and benefit the Mid-America Transplant Foundation and Family House.
“Most of the artwork I’ve done in my life, I’ve done to benefit charities,” Dr. Varma said. “That came from my father, the greatest inspiration in my life. When I started on the Dream series, I dreamt all of the artwork before I put it on the palette. So it’s very special to me.”
Supporting Family House was a natural fit. Dr. Varma’s husband, Dr. Chintalapati Rathna Varma, is a liver and kidney transplant surgeon at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. She speaks of the deep impact of letters sent by her husband’s patients. “We get a lot of letters. He’s a very kind man, very compassionate,” Dr. Varma said. They write about “how much they enjoyed meeting him, how compassionate he is, how much love he gave, and how much their family is enjoying the time because their loved one is alive today. You will cry.”
Dr. Chintalapati Rathna Varma sees a correlation between his wife’s professional life and her desire to give to others through her art. “These paintings are an expression of how she feels life should be,” he said, noting his wife teaches holistic approaches to medicine and yoga 3-4 times per week. “That’s naturally what comes from her. I’m just amazed.”
‘Like it was meant to be’
Dr. Varma was introduced to Grafica’s owners, Lynn and Lary Bozzay, through a friend of a friend. Grafica hosts 4-5 events annually, but typically not charity events. “We’re intrigued by the idea that she paints based on her visions, and she paints from Eastern tradition,” Lary Bozzay said. “For our clientele, it’s not something we would normally carry at our gallery. We were just so interested by the idea of a professional who does painting on the side and wants to give back.”
Dr. Varma asked the Bozzays to select the charity for her event. “When Dr. Sree asked us to pick the charity, Lary thought it should be local,” Lynn Bozzay said. “Mid-America Transplant is a client of ours and does a lot of framing with us. All these pieces just fit together like it was meant to be.”
Grafica will host two organ and tissue donor registry drives during the show, which is hosted throughout National Donate Life Month, a national observance aimed at increasing national and regional attention on how every individual has the potential to make life possible by registering their decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. Visitors to Grafica will be invited to join the registry on April 1 and April 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The show will benefit Family House, which provides comfortable, safe and affordable single-family apartment living for transplant patients and their families who must relocate to St. Louis for lifesaving pre- and post-transplant care. More than 90 transplant patients have stayed at Family House since it opened in December 2013.
“Dream” is a series of paintings based on dream patterns experienced by Dr. Varma. Water is a key element of the series. “In the beginning, there is water, and in the end, there is water and in between, water is essential for survival,” Dr. Varma wrote about the series. “The same water which quenches the thirst, also can heal the spirit and can make you submerge in the spirit of radiance.”
Dr. Varma works with oils, acrylics and mixed media. She often focuses on the age old Indian art technique of Kalamkari. Inspired by Thomas Kinkade, an American painter dubbed “The Painter of Light,” Dr. Varma is including a personal reproduction of one of his works in the show. “He’s a great artist, and he also did so much philanthropy. Everything he earned, he gave back to society. That’s where my inspiration is.”
Dr. Varma described the series’ title painting: “Every dream has a meaning. In this dream, it was a very rough sea. Someone is sitting. They’re thinking, ‘this is not my life, this is just a rough sea and I’m going through a lot.’ Suddenly, bright peacock feathers appear, and she was dreaming that her future is going to be bright. She didn’t care about the rough seas.”
“The Dream” speaks to her larger message of the entire series. “When you look at the paintings, you should have peace and tranquility,” Dr. Varma said. “My message is the light in dark life. When you see these paintings, you feel the light, you feel the hope in your heart. You feel serenity.”
“Dream” by Dr. Sreelatha Varma
Opening Reception: Friday, March 31 from 6-9 p.m.
at Grafica Fine Art & Custom Framing
7884 Big Bend Blvd
Webster Groves, MO 63119
Show continues through April 29.
Register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor at Grafica on April 1 and April 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.