Communication is integral to human existence. We are what we express. Literature, art, dance, music, are some of the creative mediums that help us leave an impression on the world. A minimal statement that has layers and layers of thoughts underneath, leaving a viewer to relate to the messages in her own way.
Our recent group art exhibition at The US Consulate General Mumbai in collaboration with Dosti House was a testimony to this experience. Paintings told the stories of the vision, perspective, personal challenges of the visual arts students from Banaras Hindu University, who couldn’t attend the exhibition because of semester examinations.
The artists portrayed the challenges, often personal, of the vulnerable communities in India. How difficult it is for a woman to survive in a patriarchal world, where everybody else in control of her education, her career, her sexuality, her very existence, except her. How difficult it is to migrate to big cities from one's own village, and the struggle to maintain their identity and values goes unnoticed. How the creative minds of children are affected by the social pressure of conforming to the norms of success and better career. How female child education and child labour are given all the weight in newspapers yet aren’t dealt with effectively in real life. How manual scavengers also have a crucial role to play in making our lives better, yet they’re denied their basic rights. A look at these paintings can make one realise that we do often talk about these issues but as a society what have we ever done about it.
We weren’t the only ones raising questions through the artworks of our student artists there. Consulate General Thomas showed concern about why there weren’t more works from female artists. Public Affairs officer Victoria was surprised to know that the students are not supported by their university to buy art materials.
The whole point of conducting these exhibitions is to make the voices of these artists heard and of receiving feedback from the visitors. These exhibitions mark the cultural exchange between two nations. As JR says, “Art is not supposed to change the world, to change practical things, but to change perceptions. Art can change the way we see the world. Art can create an analogy”.