Interviewed by Ben Kunjacko for OCP-MARP – 23/9/19
# Painting commissioned by Dr. Ajesh T Philip for MARP and OCP Foundation.
# Pained by Sunitha M Selvakumar.
# First ever Western Rite Orthodox portrait of Metropolitan Alvares Julius.
Can you introduce yourself?
I am Sunitha Selvakumar hailing from Kerala. Presently I am based in Karnataka. I am an IT professional as well as an artist.
Can you tell us something about your interests as an artist?
I have been painting for the last twenty years. I like painting portraits and doing handicrafts and Warli clay art. However, my paintings are not limited to portraits. I also do various types of paintings like Madhubani and Murals. I have displayed some of my works at various exhibitions. My family is also engaged with sculpturing and art as well.
How did you take up the painting assignment?
I was approached by Dr. Ajesh T Philip for the painting. Initially, I had no idea about Bishop Alvares Julius. Even though I paint portraits, I have never painted anything similar in the past, hence it was a challenge and it was exciting at the same time. Dr. Ajesh detailed me on MARP and on the historic importance of Alvares Julius. The detailing helped my confidence to complete the painting.
Did you try to learn about Metropolitan Alvares Julius before taking up the painting assignment?
Dr. Ajesh provided every necessary detail. He carefully explained the importance of Alvares Julius and his socio-political and religious mission. The detailing helped me a lot, especially to overcome my doubts regarding the Western Rite Orthodox communities and their unique culture. I am totally impressed by the life of the late bishop Alvares.
What were your feelings while painting the portrait of Metropolitan Alvares Julius? Did you feel something special?
It was quite challenging for me to paint his face, as every minute detail should reflect on the portrait. Another challenge was to paint his attire. It consumed a lot of attention and time, as we opted for the original Western Rite vestment of the bishop. I was able to complete the portrait on time with the encouragement from Dr. Ajesh and the MARP research board. I consider the painting assignment a great blessing in my life. It felt great to paint the portrait of a legend and I am thankful to Dr. Ajesh and the MARP research board for selecting me to paint the great saint.
How did you feel after completing the painting?
I felt happy and satisfied. I am blessed, and it was an honor and privilege for me to paint the first-ever western rite orthodox portrait of Alvares Julius. I was more than happy when Dr. Ajesh congratulated me for the piece of art. He also informed that the MARP research board was extremely happy with the painting. Many others congratulated me as well.
Tell us your experience working with the Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE Society, MARP Research Board and Dr. Ajesh T. Philip.
It was truly an amazing experience for me to work with Dr. Ajesh and the MARP research board. Dr. Ajesh was very supportive and patient. He was always accessible for clarifying doubts and for providing suggestions. He always made it a point to make me comfortable during the entire process. The experience was truly professional. Moreover, I am astonished that the research project (MARP) has successfully completed ten years. I am impressed by the hard work and dedication of Dr.Ajesh and his team. I am also delighted that the painting will become a part of the OCP Foundation and thereby it will have extensive reach.
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