HomeVoorhees NewsArt Commission fuels aspiring local artists

Art Commission fuels aspiring local artists

Voorhees organization offers platform to showcase their work

Voorhees artist Kamal Khatiwala holds one of her creations, a scarf created with a 3D painting on fabric.

The Voorhees Art Commission (VAC) has been a place for local artists since its inception in 2022, providing a platform for creative expression and fostering a vibrant arts community.

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Partnering with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, the VAC has made culture and creativity integral to Voorhees Township’s revitalization efforts, educational initiatives and economic development strategies. At the heart of the initiatives is the Voorhees Arts Center & Gallery, established in 2018 to provide local artists with a platform to showcase their work and engage with the community.

Located at the Town Center, the gallery is a place where visitors can explore a rich variety of art, photography, and gifts while also experiencing in exhibits, classes and other events. It also plays a vital role in guiding the township on its arts and culture strategy and spearheading educational opportunities for the growing art community.

The VAC is comprised of five members nominated by the township committee, along with an advisory board. Current members include Natalie Illiano, Renee DeSantis, Kamal Khatiwala, Mary Elizabeth Horvitz and Suzy Sherbine. They collaborate with partner organizations to supports artists and art students in fine arts, performing arts and music and also sponsor an Artist of the Month program.

For Khatiwala, a Voorhees resident of more than 20 years, the journey into the world of art has been a lifelong pursuit. Hailing from India – where a love for artistic endeavors was cultivated from childhood – she was unable to attend art school. But upon relocating to the U.S. in her early twenties, she carved out a path amidst the challenges of establishing a career and family while acclimating to a new language and culture.

“I have always been artistically inclined since childhood,” Khatiwala noted, “and have taken a variety of classes, workshops etc. throughout growing up in India, but was not able to go to an art school.

“After moving to the U.S. … trying to establish career and family while learning the language and culture was difficult,” the 50-year-old added. “But I always found a way to stay connected with art by drawing.”

From sketching to crafting intricate Rangoli designs – a traditional Indian folk art involving colored chalk, sand powder and flowers – Khatiwala found solace and connection through her art.

Now in the semi-retired phase of her life, Khatiwala’s focus on art has intensified. Becoming a member of VAC in 2019 provided a vital platform for her to showcase and share her art with the community and fellow enthusiasts, inspired by luminaries such as Van Gogh and Manet, as well as local talents. She has also worked as a teacher at the VAC since 2021 and is a member of its board.

“Being a realism artist, I take a lots of pictures of landscapes, seascapes, flowers etc. when I’m traveling,” she related, “and usually get inspired to put them on canvas.”

Recognition as an artist of the month in The Sun marked a significant milestone in Khatiwala’s journey as an evolving artist, but also underscores the value of community support in nurturing artistic growth.

“I would like to look at my art and feel joy,” she remarked. “I want them to see the nature’s beauty and appreciate it.”

Reflecting on their artistic philosophy, Khatiwala emphasizes the profound joy derived from creating art. It’s not merely about achieving greatness but rather about the sheer happiness that art brings. She aspires for viewers to find solace in the beauty of nature encapsulated within her works.

“I would like aspiring artist to know that there is never too late to start anything in life. Art is all about expressing your self and as long as it makes you feel happy you should keep painting.

“It’s not about becoming a great artist, it’s about the joy you get from it.”

For more information on events, news and highlights of gallery artists, visit the new VAC website at voorheesarts.com.

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