UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


UNC business professor uses her art to support habitat


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Art, business and philanthropy intersect in the newest project undertaken by Sreedhari Desai, a professor at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Desai is not only a professor of organizational behavior but also a gifted artist whose oil paintings are influenced by her Indian heritage and the Western art forms of Impressionism and Expressionism.

She brings together her strengths as a social scientist and artist to study how psychology relates to art, and how participating in the artistic process affects both the artist and the viewer. For instance, in one study she found people are more likely to behave generously after free drawing; she terms this the “return to innocence” effect.

As she organized her first exhibition in North Carolina, she decided to donate all sales proceeds to the “House that Kenan-Flagler Built,” a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County.

Desai joined UNC Kenan-Flagler faculty in 2011 and also is a research fellow at Harvard University.

“I’ve received a lot of support from UNC Kenan-Flagler, so I thought I’d like to do something in return for the school,” she said. She liked the idea of supporting the “House that Kenan-Flagler Built,” which brings together students, faculty and staff to sponsor and build a house for Habitat for Humanity.

“It’s nice to have art viewed and appreciated, but what I value most is what art can do for good” she said. “I firmly believe that art can revitalize a community and strengthen its social capital. I’d like my art to be a catalyst in attaining the goals of the House that Kenan-Flagler Built project.”

Desai has exhibited her artwork previously in Chandigarh, India, and Salt Lake City, and spoken about the confluence of art and psychology at the Fine Arts League of Cary.

Her show entitled "The Colors of Humanity" opens Saturday, March 23 at Saladelia Café, which is located at 4201 University Drive in Durham. Open to the public, the reception begins at 6 p.m. Live music will be provided by The Carrborators from 7-9 p.m.

RSVP requested at http://www.paperlesspost.com/p/2c4f79c383#paper/front/0 and for more information, contact Jean Elia at (919) 962-2624.