Take a stroll around Kathmandu city and you will find places and events that are truly unique and interesting. One such place is Gallery Mcube, an art gallery which is quite different from other galleries about town which are business oriented. Mcube has a very quirky vibe to it; it’s a place where people are given the freedom to be as imaginative and creative as possible. The gallery is currently organizing an art exhibition for Kanti Children’s Hospital. The project’s main objective is ‘healing through art’ for which the workshop has been organized. College students have been invited from universities around the world and there are students from Savannah College of art and design, Northern Michigan University, Minnesota State University and Tribhuvan University of Nepal.
Manish Lal Shrestha, mentor of the project is seen running around managing people, singing songs and just happy with what he does. A visual artist who loves to do community projects, he involves people in his creative project to find spiritual connections through art. Manish has done 8 residency projects till date, inviting foreign artists to his studio to collaborate with one another and create works of art. He says, “I try to create a space for all these young creative people, an inter-disciplinary student residency which involves interaction and collaboration among students coming from different cultural backgrounds.”
Manish checks the profiles of all these students, and looking at their portfolio he invites artists who are enthusiastic and can adjust to new cultural settings. These fresh grad students are seen creating art work, working with colors and experimenting with their art using caps and bottles thrown away by the hospital. The students come from different cultures and have never met each other before, but are collaborating to put together a very interesting exhibition under the guidance of Manish. “The process is very challenging and memorable for the foreign students who come here in their gap year or for the summer. Many foreign artists face difficulties adjusting to the country, so we mentally prepare them before they come here,” he informs.
The artists who get involved in the workshop are taken to other art galleries, studios and heritage sites so that they get inspiration for the project. After the visit he gives them an open arena to interact with each other and let their creativity take over. Manish not only invites people from an art background but also from different creative fields which include artists, poets, musicians and theater actors. He says, “I try to create a hub for all creative people and provide a platform to showcase their creativity and ideas; it is a very spiritual process.”
MCUBE is a very free space for creative people. Manish gives the artists their time and freedom to create their art without rigid boundaries and expectations. The organization is connecting culturally with people from around the world; 32 artist from different countries come together with diverse culture, different creative styles working in his eight different residency projects every year. The organization is also connected with Asia Culture Center. “We are being recognized in an artistic level,” adds Manish.
He explains how they are self-reliant as they get no support from the government. He informs,“The government is not doing anything like this so I took the initiative of creating free space for creative people where they are understood and appreciated. It’s an avenue for them to let their imagination flow without anyone being judgmental towards them.” Manish feels he is running out of space to exhibit the artwork and for people to work, so he is planning to expand and looks forward to opening ten different studios in the future.
A very spiritual person, Manish is very much connected to art and meditation through which he finds a sense of peace and satisfaction. He is seen running around coordinating people with a very humble attitude and always has a smile on his face. He creates beautiful art work and says, “Art is a huge part of me; art to me is like breathing, something from which I can never be separated. It has merged into my life permanently.” Manish describes himself as an empathetic and compassionate person and he really does give that positive vibe to whoever comes in, “I just want to make people feel comfortable and have a spiritual connection with each other.”
Manish is an individual who seeks salvation through his art work, conducting projects and involving people who come up with different ideas. The current project also holds the same value; a group of creative enthusiastic artists putting together an innovative project. ‘Healing through art’ is how they describe the project and Manish tries to make the workshop as chilled as possible for the artists to work freely. Manish describes his artistic journey until now as being very spiritual, regardless of the challenges he faces as he goes along maintaining a very positive attitude.