A new template for cultural empathy

MCA embarks on a new exhibition concept to promote a more intimate understanding of others through the arts, inaugurated by artist and diversity advocate Dr. Sheni Meghani.


Dr. Sheni Meghani shares ideas about her art at the Brick. [Photo courtesy of the Marion Cultural Alliance]

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Posted July 1, 2022 | By Julie Garisto

According to Dr. Sheni Meghani, enjoyment of the arts is a three-dimensional experience that immerses the participant in culture and different sensual experiences — sights, sounds, textures, flavors and aromas– by way of the imagination.

But most, importantly, art also celebrates how similar we are.

Meghani inspires and educates workplaces and organizations as a diversity consultant with husband and partner Cain Davis. She also serves on the board of Marion Cultural Alliance and chairs the nonprofit’s programming committee.

Her upcoming exhibition event, “Glimpses of India: A Unique Immersive Experience of the Arts, Music, Culture, and Traditions of India,” will take over the Brick City Center for the Arts July 1-9. Expect a full slate of entertaining, informative events (see info box for details).

Meghani planned the exhibition to do more than display art and educate the public. Besides showcasing her art and culture in a variety of media — including folk music and textiles — “Glimpses of India” will serve as a pilot for future exhibitions, which will allow the Marion Cultural Alliance to issue calls for member artists and others to exhibit works centered on their cultural background in a variety of media, providing dialogue, folklore, history, real-life stories, everyday objects and other ephemera that allows people to see the world from their perspective.

“We can use this map to showcase different cultures that represent this community,” the Ocala resident effused.

She stresses that she wants her exhibition to be collaborative. “India is so diverse,” Meghani explained. “So, what I can share is a very, very minute portion of India, based on just my experience. So, I have invited the Indian community not just to attend but to participate.”

Meghani grew up in Gujarat, the western part of India. In her youth, she trained in Indian classical singing, dancing and painting. In her paintings, she shares the stories she heard, read and danced to as a child growing up in India. Her work blends singing and storytelling into a multisensory experience of her birthplace’s traditional folk-life. Her art conveys her view and appreciation of the peacock.

“The peacock has symbolized wealth, beauty, art and much more since the beginning of time,” she said.

Meghani enjoys wearing sarees. Expect to hear her singing Indian songs (yes, she has a lovely voice).

When she’s not creating art, Meghani engages the community, businesses and individuals through her work as a diversity and inclusion professional, as a Senior Partner of Diversified Consulting Concepts and as president of the Strategic Community Alliance Inc., a nonprofit organization.

In her art and as a representative of both organizations, she educates people with infectious enthusiasm and a sense of humor while sharing mindful ways to approach leadership, cultural competence and diversity in an effort to promote inclusion.

She’s also a board-certified physician in internal medicine, geriatric medicine, palliative medicine and hospice care.

Empathy drives Meghani’s work as an artist and consultant. We can only imagine the ripple effect she might create by creating a new practice of immersing in another culture and walking in someone else’s shoes.

Glimpses of India Events | Register online at mcaocala.org

Friday, July 1 – Thursday, July 9: gallery exhibit “Glimpses of India” paintings based on folk-life of India. Free admission. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 pm, Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.)

Also on July 1, from 5 to 7 p.m.: Opening Reception: “Arts, Culture and Bites of India”

Saturday, July 2, 1-3 p.m.: Guided tour of the exhibit and talk with the artist. Free admission.

Tuesday, July 5, 5:30-7 p.m.: Lecture Demonstration: Introduction to the folk culture of India. Free admission,

Wednesday, July 6, 5:30-7 p.m.: Lecture Demonstration: Music, Dance & Song. Festivals of India. Free admission.

Thursday, July 7, 5:30-7:30 pm – Art of Henna Class, $35 fee with all materials included.

Friday, July 8, 5:30-7 p.m., Indian Sari Workshop (opportunity for participants to wear sari). Free. RSVP requested online at mcaocala.org