Called “miracle girl” because Karishma has done extraordinary things that no one believes a person with down syndrome can do. She became a talented artist, organizing many exhibitions to support children in Vietnam and around the world. She opens yoga and dance classes for children with disabilities, although she has her own challenges. So called because her name in Indian means “miracle”.
Karishma Kannan was born in 1991 in Chennai, India. Only 4 months old, parents discovered that their first daughter had a special disease, causing retardation of physical and intellectual development. But thanks to early detection, Karishma was sent to special schools for intervention.
The first five months of the female artist’s life were full of therapeutic exercises. It was not until the age of two that Karishma took her first steps and babbled a few words. And it takes more than three years for her to be able to chew and swallow soft foods on her own.
At that time, her resistance was very weak. Just a small change in the weather is enough to make the family anxious. Kalpana Kannan, Karishma’s mother, said: “She can’t stand on her own and needs someone to help her. Her hips and knees can’t bear the weight. We have to massage her every day.”
According to Ms. Kalpana, early intervention is key to helping Karishma gradually stabilize. “My husband and I later learned to take care of our little angel. We don’t give up and always strive to give our children the best. Every family experience is precious.”Karishma’s mother shared.
In the following years, the female artist still had to take medicine and attend many special classes to improve her condition. She also showed a passion for dance when her family moved to the Chennai area. Discovering this, both Karishma’s parents were very happy and devoted themselves to creating a positive living environment for their children. In addition, family picnics also made her gradually open up and communicate better.
The turning point only really happened when the whole family moved to work in Ho Chi Minh City in 2008. The female artist had unforgettable days in what she called her “second home”. Unable to go to school because of language restrictions, her parents tried everything to help her adjust to life in Vietnam. They let Karishma go to school a lot from yoga, embroidery, weaving to pottery, gardening.
She also studied drawing with Cyndi Beaumont. It was also Cyndi who unleashed the potential and created the special Karishma it is today. Outside of class, Cyndi teaches Karishma to familiarize herself with colors, brushes, and how to perfect a painting.
Karishma seems to have found her own love. Day by day, she studied hard to draw with her teacher. For a person with this disease, focusing on drawing a picture is an impossibility. As for Karishma, she simply brings miracles to life. She became an artist before she turned 20.
With painting, Karishma talks more, opens her heart and integrates better. The female artist always keeps a smile on her lips and is friendly to all, making many people seem to forget that she is a “special person”. Her world has expanded thanks to painting. Karishma says: “Like everyone, I have my challenges. I’m slow and I can’t read and write like everyone else. I can only send my love through art and paintings.”
Karishma’s paintings are often landscapes. Sometimes it is a sand hill in the golden afternoon, colorful flower gardens, sometimes a sparkling city reflection under a calm lake. Her works carry a liberal spirit, full of love and belief in good things through colorful drawings.
In 2015, Karishma’s whole family left Ho Chi Minh City and returned to live in India. She left Vietnam and returned to her hometown to open a yoga, dance and meditation studio called Studio 21UP to guide children with similar circumstances. Remembering her 8 years in Vietnam, Karishma said she could not forget this place. Vietnam is like a second home, giving her the opportunity to discover herself and set important milestones in her life. Because of that, many of her works depict familiar images of Ho Chi Minh City and the poetic landscape of Vietnam.
In 2011, Karishma first held a painting exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City. That year, she just turned 20. In front of art-loving guests who came to enjoy paintings, Karishma was timid in her flowing red ao dai. She couldn’t say much, but her eyes were full of happiness when all 45 works were sold out in just one session. 230 million VND collected, Karishma donated to support disadvantaged and orphaned children in Vietnam.
Consul General of India Abhay Thakur at the time said: “I was struck by the great courage and determination behind Karishma’s small appearance. I must say that she is a diplomat, a great representative of the Indians in Vietnam.”
After that time, Karishma continued to open two more exhibitions in 2013 and 2015. Still like the previous time, the Indian girl still chooses long dresses as showing her special affection for Vietnam. In total, more than 100 paintings were sold after three exhibitions and one auction. The works of the Indian artist have helped to light up the life of many children with heart disease, orphans and disabilities in Vietnam. She shared: “When I am in Vietnam, I always feel at home. I am supported and loved by everyone. Therefore, I am happy to be able to help special children like me.”
Although now back home, Vietnam has always been a special memory of Karishma. The female artist very much looks forward to the day she returns to the S-shaped country. There is always a burning desire in her to continue sharing and helping those in need. “I will be very satisfied if I can continue to open exhibitions in Vietnam in the future”Karishma asserts.
Karishma’s journey to overcome challenges and create values for the community helped her win two international awards for people with down syndrome in 2014 and 2018. The artist was also honored to be invited to speak at the event. United Nations headquarters on World Down Syndrome Day 2019.
Karishma continues to have a special connection with Vietnam when becoming a judge of the painting and literary competition “For a Vietnam that will surely win”. Here, Karishma will have a reunion with Mr. Pham Phu Ngoc Trai, President of GIBC, who is also a contest judge. Mr. Ngoc Trai has accompanied and sponsored Karishma during her exhibitions.
Karishma is no longer the shy girl with the oil paintings. She will be an example and a motivation for children suffering from serious diseases to love painting across the country. Karishma bravely fought her challenge and painted wonders as her name.
“I can, you can, we all can” or roughly translated “I can, you can, we can” is a message that has been associated with Karishma for more than 10 years. Accompanying with “For a Vietnam to win”, the Indian artist hopes to be able to overcome all difficulties and misfortunes with children to achieve better things in life.
The pictures that the children sent to the contest touched the female judge when she remembered the early days of getting acquainted with painting. “I love nature. I painted my first picture under a tree. It’s wonderful that my family has supported me wholeheartedly. Through paintings, I can express my feelings. I see i’m happy”Karishma recounted.
Karishma hopes that children will also find happiness through colorful drawings. To her, all works are beautiful and meaningful.
“I feel love and faith through their pictures. It’s hard for me to rate them because they’re all amazing”, the female artist shared.
Through the contest, the female judge also wanted to send a message of love in the family. For people with challenges like Karishma, the care, protection and support of family is the most precious thing. Family is what gave her the faith and strength to create the special Karishma she is today.
With “For a Vietnam to win”, Karishma believes in a happy future for everyone. Karishma with a smile on her lips always affirms “believe in yourself, I can do it and we can too”.
Content: Hoai Phuong – Design: Hang Trinh