Ahaana Artiste Focus Director: Alka Rao

Alka is an enthusiastic and passionate supporter of Ahaana and it's goals. She is on the SAWEN Committee, which she has been a part of since the first meeting. She is excited to be directing this year's Artiste Focus and has brought together a diverse and dedicated group of women to showcase on September 24th.

Anar Mehta. When you hear Anar's name most folks within the Indian community would instantly recognize her for her diva style and dynamic dancing ability. But wait, she has yet another talent!  Capturing a moment in time for posterity has fueled her passion for photography. For nearly two years now, Anar has been an enthusiastic photographer. She does landscapes, event photography and portrait photography. Recently her work has been featured on KUSI news and San Diego Reader! "Memories fade, captured memories don't " - www.facebook.com/thedreamypomgrn8/

SAWEN's Alka and the Seven Sweet'Arts!

Shilpi Prasad is known for her Mithila style oil painting. She was born and raised in Uttar Pradesh, India in a town surrounded by gorgeous hills, forests, and massive water falls. Growing up amidst nature, appreciation for art and beauty came naturally to her. She began painting at a young age and soon produced many works in oil and acrylic. She also took up sculpture and was soon producing large life-like carvings of humans, faces, birds etc. Her understanding of art and meticulous color application brings a striking realism to her work...so true to her name! Shilpi also specializes teaching art to kids. www.art2craft.com

Sushma Suresh is a diva playback singer/ Carnatic vocalist/ Veena and Keyboard player. At the age of 4 she started to learn Carnatic music under her mother, Smt. C. Rajalakshmi. She also learned to play the instrument, Veena under Vidwan Shankar Raman. Growing up with a passion for singing, she has been featured in All India Radio, FM 91.5 New England, Zee TV, and has sung and recorded songs at various events and programs all over. Noteworthy mention are her songs recorded for an independent film, "The Girl Upstairs" and playback singer for a full length Kannada feature film releasing soon. Today in San Diego she performs extensively at many festivals, events, programs and gives live concerts in Classical music, regional language movie songs, and Bollywood numbers, each with equal ease. In Shruti Laya Music Academy, her music school, she teaches Carnatic music, film playback singing, keyboard and veena playing.

Radha Kalakurthy may not seem familiar to you but if you have seen her art and jewelry from recent community events you will recognize her instantly. Quilling or paper filigree is an art that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is rolled, looped, curled, twisted and otherwise manipulated to create shapes which are then used on greetings cards, pictures, boxes, models, jewelry, photo frames etc. Radha thoughtfully uses these to create her own unique designs especially in the area of jewelry making. Her earring collection is vast and fantastic and a must have for all San Diegans! Radha moved to United States 2 years ago and is looking to introducing her beautiful art to the community.

Nilanjana Banaerjee specializes in the Indian classical dance form of Odissi. She follows the Mahari dance tradition of Guru Muralidhar Majhi & Guru Mitra Purkayastha. For more than a decade, she has been performing extensively for the Indian diaspora in the U.S. She has had the distinction of being featured as a solo artist for opening acts at major conventions, festivals, fundraisers and charity events. She was the principal dancer at NJ based Rhythms of Dance & Music company where she is from. Being very new to Southern CA she is already making her mark and is all set to conquer hearts and beguile the audience with many upcoming shows and performances.   www.odissinilanjana.com

Seema Chintamneedi How many of you agree that "food" is an art? And more so, if it is creatively made, artistically decorated and professionally presented. Baking is Seema's passion. She started baking and decorating cakes and goodies for friends and family, and is now on a venture where she serves it up professionally. She has a certificate from Advance Bakeshop program to boost her baking skills. She also specializes in eggless cakes and customizes it to each client's interest and taste with utmost care. Catering to various dessert needs for birthdays, anniversaries, baby / bridal showers and other occasions is her specialty. Her homemade cakes are tasty crafted to look stunning and very true to life. www.facebook.com/seemascakeotreat

Sudha Katragadda is a Chef / Entrepreneur / Restaurateur. When passion meets purpose, there are no bounds to what can be achieved. Sudha's journey from a homemaker to a recognized chef is a perfect example. Her journey to be a chef started over two decades ago from her home kitchen in NJ where she volunteered to provide home cooked food to children's hospitals and at cultural events for free; very noble thinking of promoting Indian cuisine as well as helping out parents during their anxious times. That led to catering services within the region which became immensely popular. She was inspired to become a chef, open a restaurant and managing it all by herself. Two years ago when opportunity knocked on her door she purchased "Annapurna" restaurant located in Mira Mesa, San Diego. Today many Indian cultural events and festivals have had catering services from Annapurna restaurant and has a tremendous patronage in a short time. www.facebook.com/sdannapurna