If you have been following the South Fayette Township Library, you may already be somewhat familiar with local artist, Selva Priya Sahadevan. Priya has been actively involved with the library for the last several years. From teaching multiple classes for kids, teens, and adults to spearheading the recent Mother’s Day art installation in the courtyard, Priya is committed to making a difference in the lives of people in South Fayette.
We recently sat down with Priya to learn a little more about her.
How long have you lived in South Fayette?
We came to Pittsburgh in 2013 and have lived in South Fayette for the last three years.
Have you always been an artist?
I have been painting and drawing since childhood, but it really took shape in 2016 when I started making more paintings as a hobby. In 2019, I received the Three Rivers Arts Festival Emerging Artist Scholarship, and it took me to the next level. I started signing my paintings, and I started my own art studio teaching kids. I was awarded the scholarship again in 2020, but because of the pandemic, the festival was canceled. I will be there this year though.
How did you get involved with the library?
We had been in South Fayette for three or four months when I contacted the library to see if I could do free art programs for the kids and teens. I know how to do art and I love teaching younger kids, so I approached the library to see how I could help. Nicole Harding (Youth Services Librarian) and Sarah Grebinoski (Adult Programming Coordinator) helped me at that time. We planned something for little kids and something for teens as well. The relationship has grown from there.
What inspires you to do these types of volunteer projects?
Art is a good medium to reach people, to give back to the community. The Mother’s Day project allows for even very young children to participate.
My students and I have done other projects. We gave handmade greeting cards to a senior home at Christmas, we did a 10′ banner with kindness-themed artwork and donated it to the Hillman Cancer Center, and we did hand-painted masks for the front line workers for Valentine’s Day.
The kids love making these things and feel good about how their creations reach people and bring a smile to them. Whenever I see the happiness of the kids and the receivers, it inspires me to do more.
What do you love about the library?
Many things! I love the books and the programs, like chess and storytime. Especially during the pandemic, the library stepped up to engage kids with their virtual storytimes and DIY projects. Every time we came to pick up a DIY kit, we would pick up books, too. My twin daughters love our trips to the library.
What is your favorite book?
Even though I am a grown-up, I still like kids’ books like The Adventures of Tintin and Harry Potter.
Anything that you would like to add?
Doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from or how little or big you are, you can always make a difference from whatever you do — from little kids to adults.
Photos by Harry Funk