We had the good fortune of connecting with sonia sharma and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi sonia, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
Where am I from? The short answer would be [then] a small town outside Minneapolis, MN.The long answer is “nowhere”.
Nowhere? Or maybe, I’m not from one place. I’m sure many bi-cultural children feel this way. Bi-cultural?? Yes! I have [personally] come to use this term to define myself, a first generation, immigrant child born to parents of East Indian decent, growing up in the USA. I grew up on the outskirts of suburban Minnesota. One of three children of color in our school system, it was tough to find role-models in my community during my early years but I always found a place in the arts.
My mother raised my brother and I, alone. Divorce was not something that happened in the Indian community but she did what she needed to do to ensure a safe upbringing for her family. And still, she found ways to keep me deeply connected to my culture. It was through her that I was brought to the world of dance at the age of 2. Beautiful stage outfits, jewelry sets, full face of makeup, bright lights- it was everything. The days of my childhood were spent confused on where I fit in into the very white, catholic community around me, the nights were when I could teleport to this world of magic, music, and dance where my placement had meaning. I would spend the next 14 years onstage and touring the nation, telling stories through the northern Indian classical dance form – Kathak.
Self-adornment through real and costume jewelry play integral roles in everyday Asian culture. But with age, some of us start to experience allergic reactions to the cheap metals often used in costume jewelry. Hives, heat bumps, and other side effects started to take place and I started to wear less and less jewelry. But I missed the ritual of it.
After struggling in the USA, I moved abroad to Vietnam and I would remain in Asia for the next ten years. It was back in Asia that I reconnected to my artistic side. I started designing again, dancing again. I even started singing jazz music. It felt liberating. But this joy, too, would be cut short. 2018 started off with a series of family ailments and by mid-year the sudden passing of my long-term partner catapulted me into a deep state of loss. I returned home to the USA. I stopped singing. I stopped dancing. Creation went into hibernation.
Early October 2021, my mother suffered a heart attack. I was driving back from SLC when I received he phone call and I continued on and drove 20 hours through the night to be there for her. Over the course of the next month I would lose 90% of my income avenues; my apartment on the verge of eviction. This, coupled with my mother’s health, I was in a state of complete shutdown. I had no control over my life in Denver, no friends to speak of in Detroit, and the weight of the familial need sent me into a state of paralysis.
I found an old box of jewelry tools and beads and I brought it to the hospital just to have something to do to pass the time. It was there I created my first sun catcher and So Light Alchemy was born. In reconnecting with my passion for jewelry, I found my way to back to my meditation. Hours would fly by and when she was awake, I would delight her in my newest creation.
So Light Alchemy is literally my insanity and perseverance translated through crystal creations. The pieces remind me to find the light when I feel lost in the dark. It’s really the most fun I’ve ever had at a “job”. So much so, that I decided to expand the line into jewelry, being mindful, of course, of the metals I source. The overall theme is centered around the feeling of lightness, very effervescent and playful.
So, where am I from? There is no one place that comes to mind but the impact is certain. I’m a culmination of all the places I have lived, the cultures I experience, the track changes I am presented with, and the risks I take. It just goes to show that you can run away from what makes you tick but if you are truly connected, you will certainly find your way back and possibly in the most unsuspecting of ways.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Easy was the last thing my journey was to my artistry. Growing up, culturally, there was a set list of occupations that was recognized and the arts was not on that list. I ran away from my true nature for years trying to fulfill predetermined roles that never fit properly in order to satisfy the examples set before me.
And growing up between two very different worlds, and even now as I travel the world, I’m only finding I have more questions…the lessons never stop coming.
I want the world to know my brand centers around Lord Shiva’s Dance of Bliss. where we see birth and death align, where destruction tips into creation again. Our cycles of dark and light. This brand was created under the weight of the unforseeable and yet, saw me home.
After almost 20 years of dancing around my true nature, I finally reconnected all the dots that have ultimately come to make me who I am.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Day 1 I would start by starting on Broadway- drinks and eats along the way.
Up to breck or vail. Hike/ski chill for two days
Head back to the city- afternoon in eve in ritzy Cherry Creek.
Red Rocks morning- lunch at Genessee pub, Golden Main Street for eve- dinner at Sherpa house
Denver Biscuit company and off to the airport!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to thank my mother for her curiosity, my dance teacher for her stability, and my friends for believing in me.
Photo credit goes to Zachary Reed