Sita Karna is associated with Janakpur Women's Development Center and her paintings are rooted in traditions which Mithila women have passed down through generation. On the occasion of marriage or for festivals like Deepawali, Maithil women paint lively designs on the mud walls of their houses. During Depawali, in order to attract Laxmi the goddess of wealth, they paint designs of elephants and peacocks which symbolize prosperity and other animals like tigers, birds. In monsoon season the paintings fade or wash away. Sita Karna like other women from JWDC, under grant from the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust, learnt how to tranfer her wall designs to paper without losing her distinctive styles and developed skills in compostion as well as in use of color and line.
The artist's pleasure in the development of a profession, and in new-found freedom to express themselves through painting, is reflected in the stories she tells.
After I was married at the age of fifteen the trouble began. My husband has to bear the expenses of his entire household of 7 people. How to feed so many people? And I also wanted to educate my children. I thought to myself I must work, but where could I find work? Then one day I came to a place where I heard a lot of noise coming over the wall and all of it from women. I found out that all those voices were of women making paintings. I went home and with the black color from the bottom of a pot, I made designs. I was granted an interview and out of 61 people I was selected to paint at the JWDC.
Growing up in Madhubani, India, I learned to make art for rituals. For instance, in our caste we must decorate a piece of paper to hold red powder, which is put in a bride's hair during wedding ceremony. My daughters and I often make these decorations since not everyone knows how.
Still I worry about the future of my family. Even in my dreams I had never imagined I would ride a bicycle to work. Before I came to the Center, I had never made paintings for sale. So who really knows about our future?
Till date, her work has been exhibited in the USA, UK , the federal republic of Germany, Australia and Belgium.