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The Questions featuring Sneha ‘IMAGINE’ Shrestha

Sneha "IMAGINE" Shrestha is a Nepali artist who paints mindful mantras in her native language and meshes the aesthetics of Sanskrit scriptures with graffiti influences.
Sneha "IMAGINE" Shrestha is a Nepali artist who paints mindful mantras in her native language and meshes the aesthetics of Sanskrit scriptures with graffiti influences.Todd Mazer

Sneha Shrestha doesn’t just paint. She crafts meditations.

Known as IMAGINE, her murals center mindful mantras mashing up the Nepali alphabet and American graffiti to create vibrant, soulful art to inspire communities.

Last year, her show “Mindful Mandalas” was on display at the MFA. She’s also an educator, having received a Master’s in education from Harvard University. The Kathmandu, Nepal native established that country’s first Children’s Art Museum. Now she resides in Cambridge and works as the arts program manager at Harvard’s Mittal South Asia Institute.

Her passion lies at the intersection of learning, community, and creativity.

What does a beautiful resistance mean to you?

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A beautiful resistance is resistance through strength and community. This is beautiful. There is something beautiful that happens when communities come together.

A couple of years ago my friend asked me while I was painting — “Where would you say is the resistance in your work?” And I told him that even if one Nepali girl sees this and says, “I wanna do that and I wanna do it better,” I believe I am resisting this world of systems I was born into.

Despite coming from one of the poorest countries in the world and having survived a civil war there, I dare to want more than to just survive. I want my career and my life to leave something behind, for even just one girl.

Being Brown/Nepali in New England is:

Being Nepali in New England can feel uncomfortable and unwelcoming at times because of racist experiences. And then, at times, I am very thankful I am here because of the friends and chosen family I have met.

In this moment, what gives you joy?

In this moment, painting and experimenting in my studio gives me joy. Celebrating Nepali festivals with my mom, dad, brother, and sister over Zoom – despite an 11-hour time difference – gives me joy. And short, socially distanced walks with friends gives me joy, too.

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Why is art such an important tool of revolution:

Art is an important tool of revolution because it makes it beautiful and appealing to larger audiences. Communication through creativity can be captivating!

Follow IMAGINE on Instagram. See more of her work at imagine876.com.





Jeneé Osterheldt can be reached at jenee.osterheldt@globe.com and on Twitter @sincerelyjenee.