I used to hate art, with a good reason to do so! Just a few days back I read an article about a banana taped to the wall (literally) at a museum, which was later sold for $120,000. Truly speaking to a layperson art is a trade of pretentious snobs or suckers, one which generates inordinate amounts of revenue for a select few and leads the rest into a world of unemployment and despair.
No wonder that the first time I was asked to participate in an art workshop, that my colleagues so badly wanted to attend, I rejected. Nevertheless, several incessant requests later I caved in and agreed to attend a workshop in a cafe in Indiranagar.
This particular one was conducted by Crimson Canvas and was supposed to teach beginners the nuances of painting. So, I sat at a corner seat with my colleagues and began painting following every instruction of the artist. It was relatively easy and surprisingly calming. I might even go as far as to say that I was proud of what I had created, but it was the artist’s story that really caught my attention.
She had created this business to empower artists and bring the “joy of art” to those who couldn’t afford it. She indicated towards the notion of how art is an expensive hobby and something that most cannot afford to pursue. She also asked us to join as volunteers at her next event.
Curious to see “Empowerment Using Art” (a strange endeavour to say the least), I visited Sparsha orphanage in Sahakarnagar the next week. Sparsha is a small organization which operates a few orphanages in Bangalore. Run by a single woman, the orphanage in Sahakarnagar houses over 50 children aged 5-17. These children receive free education, housing and meals courtesy of generous donors.
What floored me however was the painting workshop which had been set up in their ‘performance room’ (a tiny room with no furniture). These children were accustomed to Seline Akka (I think her name is Senneil) arriving with her artists every month to conduct these courses in art and so they started covering up the floors with sheets of paper, setting up the canvases, filling the paint cups and pulling out their own set of tools.
In less than 15 minutes each child was ready, covered in an apron and a paintbrush in hand, they were eager to learn, they were eager to experience something which would cost thousands of rupees to someone participating in a workshop in a posh cafe. They wanted Seline Akka to teach them to paint fishes and crabs and lobsters.
I, having experienced a workshop the previous week, was tasked with assisting kids who had dexterity issues. The painting was simple, but their language barrier, young age and lack of comprehension were issues we had to tackle, hence the need for volunteers.
But lo and behold, each child was able to create a beautiful painting of the underwater landscape. Stunning to behold, impossible to believe the age of its creator. At the end of the workshop, I wanted to know what the next steps would be like.
According to Victor, the other organizer the children’s artwork would be sold at a fundraiser exhibition (to raise funds for the orphanage) and Crimson Canvas’ artists would continue teaching these kids new skills through new and fun painting sessions.
Who knew art had this interesting side to it? Empowering children by teaching them to paint? I would have considered that a senseless pursuit, but I concede that I was wrong. It was truly an eye-opening experience and I look forward to attending more of these events and helping more kids.
They currently conduct these empowerment sessions in several orphanages in Bangalore and Surat. You can learn about them on their website.