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Līla – Artist Research Studio

"The crow and the sparrow- our kin
The infinite sea and mountain – our own tribe
In all directions, that we cast our glance, there is just ‘us’
Abundant whirling ecstatic dance everywhere!”

Subramania Bharati
(tr. Srivi Kalyan)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Srisrividhiya Kalyanasundaram

About us

Līla is an artist research studio with a focus on the intersections between engaging with the natural world, ecosophy, Indian knowledge systems, aesthetics, consciousness and self-reflection.

At Srishti Manipal Institute, this studio uniquely situates the artist studio, as a space-time frame where consciousness is altered, inquiring into studio cultures, both indoors and outdoors. The artist studio becomes an incisive yet playful frame for artistic research, infinite imagination, and ṛta- a creative ecological limit. Our intention is to turn the gaze inward, to fix our perceptions of nature to re-imagine our relationship with it

Attuned to Landscape , Watercolours and ink on Canvas, Srivi Kalyan

Our vision is to create a rich transdisciplinary space that blends encounters with the natural world, making, aesthetic and ecosophical inquiry to define new conversations and knowledge frameworks in ecological consciousness and eco-art that emerge in and through creative practice.

Using the arts as conduit, we seek to create experiences that transform interiority in our relationships with the natural world through conversations, exhibitions, publication, interactive media productions, performances as well as emerging new scholarship.

Students rediscover their own selves and relationships with the natural world, through reflective and artistic engagement in diverse natural spaces.

Research Areas

Ecological consciousness through Artistic research

Artistic Research is an evolving field that has been emerging only in the last twenty years. The Indian context of artistic research is yet to be theorised. This area of research would focus on practice-based artistic research in ecological consciousness drawing from diverse sources such as traditional practices, artisanal and craft practices, modern and contemporary art practices through varied lenses, Indian knowledge systems and environmental ethics.

Ecological consciousness as defined within Līla - Artist Research Studio will focus on the entwining of nature and culture through a multi-centric approach, where we begin by asking what is our relationship to the more-than-human world, landscapes and other species.

Key Inquiries:

  1. Transformation of ecological consciousness in the act of creative practice
  2. Relationship between aesthete as sahṛdaya and the natural world and the artist and the aesthete
  3. Consciousness in form, language and perception
  4. The boundaries and definitions of the human and the more-than-human
  5. Building new audiences to traverse the paths between parallel times in India
  6. Re-engaging with Indian knowledge systems, ontologies and aesthetics to build new creative practices

Ongoing Research Projects

This artist research studio currently focuses on two areas of intensive practice based research.

Nature in Indian Knowledge Systems and Creative Practices

We will read critical texts and review art and craft practices in India to probe into how nature is understood, experienced and interpreted in Indian thought. Drawing upon these, we will emerge new creative practices as artists/ designers. Our current work focuses on:

Rediscovering ‘body’ and ‘self’ in ‘nature’ through time and space

We work with the conception of “human” in their relationship to the cosmos in Indian thought and unpack three complex concepts of Puruṣa (human), Prakṛti (Cosmic nature) and Śarīra (the body), from experiential, philosophical, and artistic interpretations across time.

Students engaging with Hampi- a world heritage site in Karnataka, India as part of their inquiries through art historical and creative research, alongside, hiking, trekking and close engagement with the natural world.

Becoming River.Wing.Tail.Tree

In ‘Becoming River. Wing. Tail. Tree’, we engage with the question of what is nature and what is the relationship between culture and nature, between human self and animal self. We push the definitions of nature and human, questioning the frames that have been superimposed on traditional worldviews by modern, industrial and Cartesian worldviews. Our research centres on how creativity changes when definitions change. We push the boundaries of creative practice by asking - What is art or design when what we define as human changes?

In both projects, we invite graduate and undergraduate students who want to challenge the current paradigm of what creativity is by linking it to ecological consciousness, aesthetics and ethics.

Student at the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, Galibore, exploring the landscape, learning about the terrain and talking to experts about flora and fauna. Mr. Manoj Kumar, APCCF and MD Jungle Lodges & Chief Naturalist Karthikeyan. S lead the trek sharing life experiences as well as guided observation of the Cauvery landscape.

Shivangi Agrawal, Ojasvi Harish and Yuganshika Garg uses painting as a tool for expanding ecological consciousness.


This artist research studio invites students and faculty to work on the ongoing projects in artistic research on ecological consciousness. We are also open to collaborations and partnerships with organisations and individuals looking to explore this space together with us.

The studio is open to diverse art practices – graphic, visual, plastic, new media, literary, and performing. We also encourage a strong practice-led space where new futures of eco-creative practices can be debated, collaborated on, created and curated. As a space of scholarly pursuit, this artist studio will also focus on reading, writing and publishing.

Different ecological zones and communities will be considered for in depth engagement and artistic inquiry. Travel and nature journaling are a crucial part of this artist research studio.

Recent Events

The Porous Self: Is there really a dividing line between human and nature?

An interactive session by Srivi Kalyan for the Climate Coaching Alliance

Wandering in Elephant Being, March 2021

A talk by Srivi Kalyan for Friends of Elephants and WTI, followed by an interactive conversation between Bindhumalini, Indian singer, composer and graphic designer and Ramnath Chandrashekar, conservation educator, filmmaker and photographer

Becoming River, Wing, Tail, Tree, October 2021

Workshop for Postgraduate students with Dr. Partha Sarathi Mishra

This workshop probed into three critical questions

  • Living with Macaques in the heart of the city, how do we understand space, communication, interactions and relationships that must emerge in a shared space?
  • Can observing through art and design teach us to create more ecologically meaningful relationships in these shared spaces?
  • Where do ecology, art and design meet with ethics of engagement and practice?

Watching Macaques and nature journaling at Ramnagara, Bengaluru. Photo: Purav Raval

Select books, papers, chapter publications and children’s books by Dr. Srivi Kalyan

Doctoral Work: “The Porous self: Crafting an intrinsic ecological consciousness through text, image and movement”, 2021, University of Trans-Disiciplinary Health Sciences and Technology, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology

Recent Papers:
Kalyanasundaram, Srisrividhiya. 2020. “Bird and Line: Tracing Indian aesthetics to find an ‘Ecosophy’ of personal art practice”. The Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy (December 2020) Canada.

Kalyanasundaram, Srisrividhiya. 2020. ‘A Porous Consciousness in and as Artistic Practice: Re-engaging with classical Indian philosophy and aesthetics as a living tradition‘, Journal for Artistic Research, 20 .

Kalyanasundaram, Srisrividhiya and Sandhiya Kalyanasundaram. 2020. ‘Embodied Landscape Language: Tamil Poetry and Aesthetics’. Indian Literature Journal (September 2020), New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. 

Chapter Publication:
Kalyanasundaram, Srisrividhiya. 2019. “Creativity as Intrinsic Ecological Consciousness.” In Art, Ecojustice, and Education: Intersecting Theories and Practices, edited by Raisa Foster, Jussi P. Mäkelä, and Rebecca A. Martusewicz, 152-165. New York: Routledge.

Coming home to earth: Space, Line, Form, Co-authored with A.V. Ilango, Fooniferse Arts, Chennai, 2015. Funded by Sublime Galleria

The politics of creative justice: Conversations on creative processes, 2021

Children’s Books
Illustrator - Run Ranga Run, Published by Katha, 2014
Illustrator - Jungu-The Baiga Princess, Published by Young Zubaan, 2014

Personal Website:


For more information about this lab, kindly email Dr. Srisrividhiya Kalyanasundaram at