By Preena Gadra:
For art to leave a mark, talent is a prerequisite. But talent isn’t something only the ‘abled’ can lay claim to. Some of India’s most talented painters, sculptors and other kinds of artists, are different-abled. These artists are experimenting with unique approaches, materials and forms. Yet, finding the right support is tough, especially when you are seen as ‘different’ or ‘abnormal’.
Sadly, in the 21st century, society still looks at disability through a very different lens – these people are looked down upon. Well, these artists demand an independent living and a sustainable future. Struggling with society, paving their way against all odds, devoting their lives to art and managing to make a living, they are smashing all the stereotypes about who can be labelled an ‘artist’. We profile some who are bringing about the winds of change in the field of Indian art.
Sheela paints the world right with her left foot by depicting human emotions like empathy, love and bonding in her paintings. Sheela is a talented foot artist. After losing her hands and almost one foot in a train accident, she came across an artist in Delhi who used to paint without hands. This is what inspired her to give a shot painting with her foot. She quotes MF Hussain and Amrita Shergil as her influences.
A famous name in the world of art. After an electric pole fell on him at the age of 14, Shreekant lost his right arm. But that did not stop him. With a Master’s in Fine Arts, Shreekant’s paintings are sold at exhibitions across the country. A Limca Book of World Records Holder, he now plans to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
Due to a neuromuscular disease, C.V. Surendran has been confined to a wheelchair since the age of 14. But this hasn’t come in his way. Surendran uses ballpoint pens for his art. He draws complex landscapes with figures, animals, etc. He takes two or three months to complete each painting.
Amita was asked to quit school after Class 9 as the school didn’t have the facility to teach a deaf child. But Amita completed her schooling through the National Indian Open School and did a diploma in interior design. She uses coffee as a medium to paint and her paintings leave everyone amazed.
Vipul Mittal is a mute artist. He portrays life and time as illusions. He may be quiet, but his art speaks volumes. Vipul experiments a lot with colour. He employs the use of numbers in his works.
Affected by polio, he is a famous sculptor. His works have been featured in prestigious galleries across the country. He has conducted a variety of workshops for children. His art is abstract at times. He also draws inspiration from African tribal sculptures.
This 23-year-old autistic artist makes paintings of music and God. His powerful paintings often leave others speechless. Neelesh has an interest in literature and wants to study it in future.
In the hopes of helping these artists reach their full potential, students of the Shree Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) and IIT Mandi launched iOTA, an exhibition that showcases the unique work of these artists. iOTA creates a market for specially-abled artists by linking them with prospective buyers. These artists do not need your sympathy. What they need is to generate genuine interest in their art. You can help them by contributing to a crowdfunding campaign that will help them take their art to the next level.