Touched By Fire Artist Profile: Madhulika Saxena

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Madhulika's work was selected for Touched By Fire at the Ritz, 2013. She shares her thoughts around mood disorders, her work and the impact of the program. 


I'm currently in my final year doing my thesis at the University of Waterloo studying Arts and Business co-op, and majoring in Fine Arts with a Digital Arts Communication specialization. When I graduate I hope to pursue my interests in the world of business and my passion for fine arts. I was introduced to the call for entries through the fine arts department and thought it would be a great opportunity for me to start putting my work out there while I’m in school.

As I started to do more research into Touched By Fire, I realized that it brings value to the art community and also provides a platform for expression for people with anxiety, whether it’s mild or severe. I liked what I saw; its purpose resonated with me, so I hopped on board with the opportunity and applied.

I’ve always had trouble dealing with stress-induced anxiety, and the fact that I have it. Over the years I’ve really been encouraged by friends and family to be more open about my thoughts, ideas and feelings, and I found that Touched by Fire provided me with that opportunity to express myself through my artwork. 

I’m a processed based artist who uses the process of art making as a liberating exercise to release stress and thoughts that cannot be emulated through words. But for me, it’s not only about the process, but also about sharing my work in an environment that’s open-minded and appreciative of diverse talents and minds coming together. 

In terms of my artistic development, it was exciting to hear about the breadth of people that this exhibit reaches out to and the great kind of exposure I would get by being a part of this show, as a big boost for my early career.

I consider myself a Touched by Fire Artist because I felt very welcome and a part of a community that’s accepting. And because a lot of my work deals with issues of identity and exploring the subconscious through dreamscapes, the connection to Touched by Fire does help me define and ground my work as an emerging artist.

Touched by Fire provides participants with a platform to express their work in a safe and encouraging environment, which provides people with exposure that they might not otherwise thought to have. This to me is the most important thing about this program.

Becoming a Touched By Fire artist has influenced my ability   to speak out in other ways about mood disorders, simply because this is a public event I’m a part of; I feel like talking about it with others, which raises awareness about how common these issues our in our society – and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, rather something that should be embraced and tackled head on. 

My work definitely stems from personal experience and it looks to break through that tension between the private and public. I would say that I do create works in relation to and as a relief from anxiety. In my artist statement I wrote that “Dreams come prior to our thinking. They exist in a contrary world, not as an opposing force, but rather, a co-existing one. They bind instances and experiences recollected from memory that spur up into surrealist juxtapositions of ambiguity and specificity. They become a raw form of our desires, flaws, and identity as we begin to see recurring imagery that builds an index of personal archetypes. My work looks to capture a fragment from that moment of recollection that evolves between reality and the dream realm as you return to the conscious self. Letting the viewer into this vulnerable state of intimacy helps undo the tension between the public and the private, allowing for an aesthetic experience.” 

Touched By Fire has given me more confidence to put my work out there and share it with people. I’m looking forward to applying for next year’s show!

To see the work Madhulika submitted to Touched By Fire in 2013 and read her statement visit

Find out more about at Madhulika at