By Kaanchi Chopra:
I have always believed that art is the strongest and the best medium for expressing my thoughts. Over the years, it has widened my horizon and converted my dreams into a reality. Apart from making me creative, it has made me socially aware and sensitive.
It bewilders me how all of us are surrounded by extremely intelligent and talented people who have the power to change the world yet they fail to do anything good for our society.
While I was pondering over the same thought the other day, the word ‘artivism’ originated in my mind. A combination of 2 most meaningful words for me – art and activism.
Since then I have strived to make an impact with my art, every artwork of mine has a moral, some meaning and a message linked to it. It’s aimed to push for social change and awareness.
Acid Attack is the most heinous crime against women. This social evil is something I’m honestly concerned about. I had been reading a lot about the victims and their survival stories when this idea struck me.
This is a series of illustrations with the sole purpose of changing the mindset of how the general public looks at acid attack survivors and even how they look at themselves. In my opinion, scars and bruises on the bodies of the survivors should not be a sight of pity instead they should be considered beautiful. Survivors should not feel insecure about their appearance but should sense a feeling of pride because they survived the inhumane incident. I’ve doodled the various parts which are disfigured because these floral patterns signify the beauty of their face and soul. Their marks, scars and bruises are nothing but doodles on their bodies – an everlasting impression of their courage and strength.
“Don’t judge me by my colour, I am not paint. Your institutionalised shades of beauty shan’t sell me fairness creams.The melanin in me isn’t the result of a dysfunctional gene. If you think I give a dime about the hue I am, brown or black or yellow, mustard honey or ochre mellow, colour no. 455 shade 3. Look at the Earth beneath your feet, I’m in good company the polite folk, call me dusky.” – Priyal Thakkar.
These clever words imbibed a sense of oneness in me. I’ve grown up dark-skinned in a colour-conscious land and like many others, I faced colour discrimination from a tender age. Discrimination must not go unchallenged. It was then when I made this drawing on the occasion of United Nation’s Zero Discrimination Day to spread and support diversity, tolerance and inclusion.This work has been appreciated by UNAIDS.
The reason why I’ve doodled this on a transparent sheet is because it allows me to hold up my drawing and my views in front of various backgrounds depicting those numerous areas where the ‘fair and lovely’ theme still runs deeply in our society.
Poverty is probably the most widespread problem in our country. I made this doodle for UNFAO’s World Food Day. Completely hand made, this doodle is a complete overview of the situation of poor people, especially in India. The left side depicts the vicious cycle they’re trapped in, the facts and figures and the cause-effect relations which govern poverty. The central two characters represent the helpless Indian farmers who face so many problems on a daily basis, apart from poverty. FAO acts as a dove and pricks out the problems and worries of the farmers by various methods and government policies which are shown on the right side.
I made this illustration to spread awareness about the seriousness and enormity of mental illness. Often people aren’t ready to accept that they are disturbed and need immediate medical help. Multiple Personality Disorder is a disorder characterised by the appearance of at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality states that alternately control a person’s behaviour, accompanied by memory impairment.
Inspired by Steve Cutts, this sketch is an amalgamation of all the personalities that reside in one soul. It illustrates those diverse and unpredictable emotions trapped inside an individual suffering from MPD. This sketch asks people to accept their disorder and fight against it instead of denying it and getting affected even more.
I initially started drawing this to propagate peace between Hindu and Muslim communities but ended up making something deeper. It depicts that all religions are equal and believe in only one thing – peace. This poster encourages people to have blind faith in peace and not on their respective religions. People should preach tranquility in order to live in a safer and happier world.
Most of us are potential victims of ‘body shaming’ – the widespread phenomenon of receiving cruel feedback when our bodies don’t meet the unreal beauty standards of our time.
We spend our time lost in self-critical thoughts, despising our body and comparing ourselves unfavorably to others.
Let us make each other realise that fat, tall, short, thin are not insults but just characteristics. A number on the weighing machine cannot determine our worth. Losing weight is not our life’s work and counting calories is not the call of our soul.
Andrea Watcher, a psychotherapist and author says – “I have learned that changing my body will not make me feel loved, loving myself will. To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance and all women and men have the right to accept their body. The shame is on the ones who use that to attack their self esteem.”
You can visit Kaanchi’s blog here.