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ananda Ananda Kesler’s grandmother was a respected Israeli artist. Ananda’s early childhood visits to her grandmother’s studio, “a mysterious, magical place,” fostered her fascination with painting. After her family moved to Fairfield, Ananda began to transcend cultural boundaries – traveling the world to study art, printmaking, textile/surface design, painting and drawing in Italy, Iowa, California and Thailand. In contrast, or perhaps deeply informed by her travels, Ananda’s work explores and reflects her rich inner world.

Ananda describes her work as “inspired by memories, dreams, and subtle feelings difficult to describe with words . . . by inner landscapes and inner worlds.” Ananda reveals herself as an artist who practices painting “as a kind of Karma Yoga, a meditation in action . . . a search of the one realm with which all things are connected.”

anandaAfter completing her BFA in 2002 at the University of Iowa, Ananda worked closely with her mentor and ICON Gallery owner Bill Teeple. Ananda describes her time with Bill as a turning point in her work. “Bill gave me permission to explore and not judge myself,” she explains.

In 2013, Ananda was invited to show in Paris as part of an International Juried Exhibit. Out of one hundred international exhibiting artists, Ananda’s work was chosen as one of the top ten artists by a people’s choice award. In this group of ten, several women artists bonded after “en désaccord” with the exhibition director. Their post-exhibition Facebook friendships eventually led to the creation of the LUNA Art Collective. Each of the five international artists who form the Collective (Leslie Batty, Nicole Brauch, Ananda Kesler, Ivana Minafra, and Alexandra Rouard) are living in various cities around the world and exploring that world together from a unique cross-cultural perspective.

The Collective has “bonded on many levels,” says Ananda. “It’s always been easier for me to promote someone other than myself. I find it easier to talk about the group, our Collective.” Each artist not only excels in their medium but brings unique personal qualities into the Collective that support their successful group dynamic. MUM MFA in Film graduate Marc Strauch’s impromptu video “Vignette” reveals the unique qualities each artist brings into the Collective, and why their group dynamic works so well.

In May of 2015, the LUNA Art Collective presented “Invisible Cities” at Corridor 2122 Gallery in Fresno, CA. “Invisible Cities” was a visual response to a novel of the same title written by the Italian postmodern fabulist Italo Calvino, who is one of the most translated modern Italian writers.

When I ask Ananda what’s next for LUNA Art Collective, she says that their future is unknown. “It’s not that easy to persuade a gallery to exhibit work as a Collective,” she explains. “We’re basically asking is to take over the gallery space for an exhibit,” she says. “We just want to step in and then step out, an approach that is very different from the way things are usually done with a gallery curator choosing to exhibit artists they are currently representing.”

In the meantime, after what Ananda describes as a slow phase of production, she has a collection that hasn’t been shown. I hope to see this new work soon. After our interview, I reviewed Ananda’s Artist’s Statement and understood more clearly the ’aha’ feeling I experience when I see her work. “As artists,” she writes, “perhaps as humans, we might be plagued by the fear of making mistakes. I let the painting process stand as proof that it is exactly these ‘mistakes,’ that when layered, and allowed to exist, create beauty and resolution itself.” Exactly. Art responds to life and life responds to art . . . beautifully.

All Work by Ananda Kesler.

Mo Ellis is inspired by art, issues, and progressive ideas. Mo Ellis’ online and print contributions as a writer, editor, website & mobile app project manager, PR and online media director 
have appeared at: "O" magazine, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Des Moines Register, Surface Design Journal, The Iowa Source, KRUU-FM, Iowa Public Radio, Dr. Mercola and Dr. Oz.