There is no denying the fact that art is and will always continue to be therapeutic for the human mind. Science shows us that art aids in psychological development. This is probably why young people and adults alike are so often being encouraged to make time for art.
In fact, this writer has just discovered the joys of watercolor painting, after having lived all her life being told that she cannot paint. That is what art can do- open up new avenues and make us rethink our limitations. It can help stimulate the right brain and give way to a creative outlet. It can become a powerful tool to express ourselves.
So, it is only fair, that every single person, every single child should have access to it. We created the Talking Canvas with the objective of taking up initiatives that let art become a component of the imaginations of children from all walks of life, specifically children from marginalized communities who do not have much access to it.
We believe that art aids in the mental growth of children and it serves the purpose of recreation. It also stands as yet another avenue to create a better lifestyle for themselves. If we could provide these children with necessary skills and techniques, they will be able to make art a life skill for themselves.
Taking another step towards our aim of bringing art to the underprivileged, this summer, we collaborated with Bugguri Community Library at Banashankari and Singhal Iyer Family Foundation (SIFF) at Whitefield.
Previously, we have also worked with Government schools to the same effect. This time, we wanted to create impact at a deeper level.
With Bugguri, we conducted 2-day sessions with kids in different age groups and with SIFF, we conducted an eight-day-long art workshop. The approach we took for both these organizations were different and unique.
The kids at Bugguri are children of waste pickers. The Bugguri Community Library was started by Hasirudala, a community waste picker’s organization based in Bangalore to engage children of waste pickers from being out on the streets and to enable skill building in them.
Lakshmi, is the stalwart who runs the Bugguri chain of community libraries. Her passion and zeal to run the library and keep it alive is truly inspiring. She regularly conducts sessions to keep the children engaged and out of bad street habits.
We were so excited to be able to conduct art and craft-based skilling sessions for these kids!
We taught the kids some creative drawing and painting. In addition, we helped the kids upcycle used clothes into bags and helped them learn some quilting and basic embroidery to adorn it.
Working With SIFF
SIFF works on providing education for kids from low-income homes. The Talking Canvas team put together a unique 8-day program which not only taught kids the techniques of drawing, sketching and shading, but also helped kids understand visualisation and composition.
The kids were able to explore various themes including underwater life. To spice up the sessions a bit more, we took inspiration from cartoon characters. We taught the kids how to create comic strips with conversations between characters and this was a huge hit.
It was so much fun to see inanimate objects talking to each other and the innocence of their imagination taught us a lot too!
On one of the days, the kids made canvas portraits of their friends. We were thrilled to see the output from this session!
Within eight days, the kids had progressed to a new level altogether. We also did a session on Indian art forms that make up our rich heritage, such as the Warli art and Madhubani art forms. We concluded the workshop with an exhibition of works done by the children.
Results From The Word ‘Go’
At Bugguri, we saw a young boy making a bag for his hard-working mother with such focus and dedication that it was heart-warming to say the least.
SIFF did not have art formally included as part of their curriculum earlier. Our program has introduced art to these children and the joy on their faces was a testament to it.
We gave kids the freedom to explore multiple different ways in which they could use the given media. This, we think, is the best way to expand the horizons of their imagination.
What the kids came up with was amazing! The canvas portraits had a very Indian appeal to them.
We are so inspired with what they did that we want to build a collection around these portraits. The Talking Canvas products will soon feature some of these creations. We want kids to see how their art is impacting people.
Challenges, too, were a part of the journey.
For one, the children at had inhibitions initially about opening up and expressing themselves through art. The Bugguri kids lead a rough life, it was only natural that they showed resistance to laying bare their true emotions. The SIFF kids were shy and aloof, but our game based approach to art was able to break those silos and help them bond.
Divya, our team member who facilitated the workshop, faced all of these aspects with grace and eventually got the children to open up and mingle with her. Once they did so, everyone had an enriching experience, as can be seen from the finished product.
Says Amulya of SIFF, “The kids have not had such an intense art session so far. After the sessions, we saw them bond and have so much fun together! We were also able to uncover some talented kids. We are going to continue working with ‘The Talking Canvas’ team to make art a regular part of our activities.”
What more could we have asked for, really!