The bright sun and blistering heat of high summer in Delhi would serve as a deterrent for any outdoor activity during the day, the exception being a group of young artists. This group, comprising of young adults and teenagers, toil away at a plain wall, busy metamorphosing the rather dull canvas into a work of art.
Art, in any form, serves as a powerful means of expression, that can be used to communicate messages that people will sit up and take notice of; if a public wall serves as a canvas, then even more so.
So, when some 15 kids got together to express themselves on a 15 X 30 feet wall, at Gurukul, Haryana, along with artists from Wicked Broz’s Manmauji team, the output was expected to be somewhat different than the usual. And, different it was to a large extent. Says Aftab, Manmauji team: “We don’t just teach children the art we practice, but also learn a lot from them in the process. Children hail from different backgrounds, and bring with them different experiences and talents. The amalgamation of these creative juices results in an amazing journey right to the finished art work.”
The session began with an introduction to art on walls in pubic spaces, and how it can serve many advantages. The wall at Gurukul was used as a canvas, thereafter, to allow freedom of expression through children expressing themselves through art on this blank wall. This later than grew into a stencil for a larger art piece that subsequently was a riot of colours with the crux of the message at the very centre: the child.
Says Sonu*, a young participant, whose family is part of the Family Strengthening Programme: “What I loved about the initiative was freedom: freedom to let go of your expressions on a blank surface. It is an amazing feeling, as one, initially, tends to take up a small space, but gradually builds on it. It is creating from a thought to a mural of sorts.”
It is a common fact that art plays a dominant role in pedagogy too – something on which constant research is being carried on; learning and teaching via arts stimulates the brain, and encourages more creative delivery of learning material and better absorption by students. The retention power is also enhanced.
Sumanta Kar, Secretary General, SOS Children’s Villages of India, comments on the impact of art on children and youth, with focus on the mental health aspect: “Mental health is a very important aspect in today’s time, especially because of the impact the pandemic has had. Art is a wonderful medium for expressing one’s innermost thoughts and feelings, which would else not find expression and may just remain dormant. During the pandemic, we made it a point to distribute not only essential items of support, but also education material that included art material for children to stay creative and motivated. In all programmes, where we serve children through our various solutions, art serves an important role, and rightfully so.”
As the day draws to an end, and the ‘mural’ is almost complete, one can hear excited conversations filled with thrill at seeing the final piece emerging. The tiredness of the day seems to have vanished, as the group huddles in front of their canvas to see their work. There is a silence of about a minute or so, as if the audience were absorbing their collective hard work, and all its nuances, that would be up for all to serve as inspiration for many more such works.
Aftab collects his tools, and as he journeys back with his team, he recollects the day fondly: “Every workshop is such a learning experience; the one thing I have learnt is to go with the flow; let things come to you, and enjoy as they do; it will make the journey so much more enjoyable.” True words, applicable to life too.