A number of non-Christian artists from Karnataka state, which has seen its fair share of sectarian strife in recent years, say their work is inspired by Jesus Christ and Blessed Teresa. Art transcends all barriers, the artists from the southern state said, adding that the cross of Christ and the “saint of the gutters” have inspired some of their best work. “The cross is not the property of Christians alone; rather it is a symbol of God’s grace. Whatever our religions may be we are nothing without His grace,” said Jayanth Kadri, a Hindu. He even displayed three crosses tattooed on his body at an exhibition on Sunday in Mangalore, the state’s Christian-dominated main port city. Describing one of his paintings, Kadri said: “The art piece on the human earth and cross is very dear to me. It depicts the weak nature of man below and the grace of God from above.” Kadri was among more than 150 artists taking part in the Mangalore Art Festival. There are more than 2,000 works of art on show, said Dinesh Holla, secretary of the Coastal Artists Forum which organized the event. He said artists from neighboring Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states also participated. “I donated my first art piece with a Christian concept to a Christian school. I want to draw many more pieces on Jesus and Mother Teresa,” said Arwind Shet another Hindu. “Despite the communal strife around us, I feel close to Christians and their religious symbols.” Art is human and divine. It has no religious barriers and walls, opined Thyagaraj Vishvakarma, who is an art teacher in a Christian school in Mangalore. “Mother Teresa featured on many canvases because she is a people’s saint,” said Rita Pinto, an art lover who came with her daughter to the show. “My huge painting of Mother Teresa was bought by a Hindu priest. She is a universal figure,” said Shameer Ali, a Muslim who runs an art school in the city. Claiming that art has the power to give a positive direction to life, Ali said it provides solace to the lonely and depressed. “Students aged 5 to 60 come to our school. Those suffering from depression and loneliness feel better after picking up a brush or looking at a finished art piece.” “God is the Tree of Life is my favorite painting,” communicated Zena Colaco, a deaf Catholic artist. “I like human and social themes rather than religious symbols,” said Harsha Vardhana, a Hindu who came to see the exhibition. Oil, acrylic, charcoal and watercolor paintings, as well as pencil sketches, were on display at the day-long show.
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