Artist, writer and creative soul Ilanna Sharon Mandel finds in each day an opportunity to use her gifts and talents for the betterment of the planet. Whether it is photographing nature, writing about the concept of tikkun olam (the repair of the world), or the pain of her father’s passing, her work draws the observer or reader in and offers them a view into scenes that may otherwise have ‘gone unseen’. She lives by the quote from Rabbi Hillel “If I am not for me then who will be for me, But if I am only for myself then who am I; and if not now, when? “
How do you live your Bliss?
The way I live my Bliss is by connecting with others – people I care about and new people I love to meet and by following my creative heart. When I’m being creative I’m in bliss. And when I connect with people I truly care about I’m in bliss.
Although it may be difficult to label, how do you define your artistry?
Writing, photography, singing and using it to raise awareness around issues of social justice.
Had you been creative as a child, or did this come to you later in life?
As a child I was very involved with music and theatre.
As a photographer, how do you see beyond the physical image to the essence behind it and then translate it to the viewer?
When I’m taking a photograph I’m generally very involved with the subject and not thinking about translating it to the viewer. That comes later when I look at the photographs, and then I try to see what others might see or experience in the photograph.
What in particular about nature draws you to it?
I can only say this – it feels like home.
How did you develop your social conscience?
I owe a lot of that to my late father’s influence and my early work in the disability rights field. In that field I met many wonderful people with whom I still call friends today. They have taught me much about social justice, equality and human rights.
Although anyone who looks at your work will have their own perception, is there something you would like them to feel?
My hope is that they find something in each photograph that touches them in their own way.
Every artist I know has a dream about what their work can do out in the world. What is yours?
I dream big! I would like to have my novels and poetry published. I would like to exhibit my photography around the world. For me, my writing and my photographs speak volumes and I truly hope people around the world will want to listen. But, I should be honest. I dream of being interviewed on television and radio and that these interviews do me and my work justice. I hope that my work can one day make a positive influence in the world. I also dream of working in the documentary genre one day.
Fathers with Cancer
I stood by as you lied to the doctor about your true weight
Hoping it might mean something other than a death sentence
I shook as you sat with me
You knew this was the end
Still you took my hand
Quietly begged me to never give up on love
Telling me through silver tears that I was the best daughter I could be
Asking me if I would sit by you if your humanity began to slip away
Would I be with you if you chose to end your life
Would I help you take your last breath
Would I stay as you drifted away
Your corporeal body soon to be a shroud for the Kingdom of Heaven
Or would I beg you to stay no matter the consequences
Just to have my father here with me – if only for a few more minutes