Defeating disability creatively
ART Special children prove they can express themselves in a beautiful manner
EXPRESSION While many of the works bear a cheerful façade, it is not difficult to fathom an underlying tone of pain and melancholy in others
Almost lost in the hustle and bustle of city life are some silent sanctuaries bringing cheer and hope to many less fortunate people. For over four-and-a-half decades, the Association of People with Disability (APD), a voluntary organisation, has been striving ceaselessly to empower those with disability to become self-reliant and active contributors to the society. At any given point in time, APD touches the lives of about 5,000 such people, through a variety of institutional and community-based interventions. Needless to mention, most of its beneficiaries belong to lower socio-economic strata of the burgeoning metropolis.
Over the years, APD has also realised the importance of art in sparking off the creative facility of children with disability. Art camps and special training in art and crafts have enabled many of them to pursue their creative journeys. "My aim is not to teach them to draw and paint," says Shiva Bodha, the art teacher at APD. "Many children with disability are unsure of themselves. Through the medium of art, I want to instil hope and confidence in them."
Ms. Kamakshy, Programme Manager (Institutional Development) at APD, feels that no impairment can come in the way of children taking to the creative path. "Disability is not a constraint in the field of art. It is true that most of the children come from very poor family background. Schooling and education are luxuries for them, and medical rehabilitation is of prime importance. Despite all odds, we have some outstanding examples in our midst. A young student of ours even went to Switzerland through an exchange programme, thanks to his excellent artistic performance. And then, we have Salma, a poor girl with such mental disability that she cannot pursue any academic study. Still, just look at her paintings and the way she able to express herself!"
Salma was one of the participants of the art camp, Abhivyakthi Freedom of Expression, organised at APD this summer. The camp, conducted by well-known city artists Jasu Rawal and Gurudas Shenoy over a period of six weeks, escorted a dozen young students in the age group of 12 and 18 years, and helped them sharpen their inherent skills and provide an outlet to their inner feelings through painting.
"When we decided to organise this camp at APD for children with disability, we never expected to achieve this kind of response and results," says a visibly thrilled Shenoy. "As soon as we got started, we realised that these children had extraordinary gifts and faculties. Their ability to think differently, relate to nature and feel the joy of expression was amazing. We, therefore, did not interfere in their choice of subjects or way of rendering. We gave them full freedom to express whatever they wanted. All we did was to guide them with little suggestions. We also emphasised the need to be disciplined in approach and committed in purpose."
As one views the outcome of the art camp, one cannot but feel elated by the colourful compositions and depth of feeling in the paintings. Even in their simplicity, one can perceive the artists' urge to create and leave a lasting impression. While many of the works bear a cheerful façade, it is not difficult to fathom an underlying tone of pain and melancholy in some others.
Some 50 paintings created by the young artists during the camp will be on display during a special fund-raising event at 7.30 p.m. on Friday, April 22, 2005, at the Taj Residency. The proceeds will be utilised by APD to support rehabilitation of other needy children. These works will subsequently move to Lakshana Art Gallery, Race Course Road where they will be on show from April 23 to 27.
For donor passes and further information, please call Ms. Kamakshy on 25475861, 25475165 or 25489594.
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