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Mana Lewis
I was born in Iran and first experienced the rich cultural heritage of that country. In my teens, I moved to Paris and a new chapter began. While studying at the University of Paris, I found myself immersed in a world of sophisticated culture. Just to walk on the streets and see the art and beauty all around me was thrilling. In summers, I would travel to Rome to be with my siblings. My brother and I would visit museums, discuss art history, and enjoy la dolce vita. It was one of the best times of my life.

After graduating with a master’s degree in Econometrics, my attention turned towards more practical matters. I came to the US, got a second degree in Computer Science, and worked in the Silicon Valley. My first job was at one of the most exciting companies of the time, Sun Microsystems. I loved the idea of maintaining my identity as a woman and an art lover while working with the best engineers and understanding the discipline and values of their craft. I learned a lot during those years, but as my children grew up, I found myself returning more and more to my roots.

My interests turned increasingly towards design. I remodeled several houses, and did fundraising for the arts and a human rights organization. I realized that I was in search of meaning, communication, and beauty in my life. The idea of Chez Mana came to me when I was trying to connect the dots, finding the intersections between the arts, technology, economics and marketing and trying to understand why so many good artists are not well known by the American public.

While raising a family, I found that life is complex and we all face similar needs and challenges. Yet most of us do not hear from each other on how to solve these problems and therefore struggle in our corners separately and singlehandedly. I felt that we all need some down time, some new experiences and some company. It is hard to find that in our hectic lives. I have found that when I am surrounded by art, I am calmer and more grounded. During lonely or tumultuous times, I can connect to something that transcends day-to-day issues. To be touched and discover the world through art not only makes us understand our problems but sets us on a voyage of discovery and communication.

I am hoping that Chez Mana can bring the sort of closeness that is only felt through an intimate connection between an artist and its audience. If I can do that, I would say I have made a difference.