This may look like a very mediocre and even gauche piece of art. And yet for me it is priceless; more so because it landed in my life at the end of a tedious and annoying day. Let me tell you why. True this piece or art, as art it is, looks like a banal copy of an illustration in a school book sone by a child and it is. But this is probably the first time this child was give crayons and a pice of paper to draw.
Yesterday the children of our Yamuna Centre had their first ART class and their teacher was none other than our own Aman, s student of our women centre who is an excellent artists and who was sent to Art classes by Project Why! As it is still early days, our resources are few but the heart is there. For more than an hour these children who have never been to school and whose world fits in a fist took their first step on the creativity trail. They were enthralled and a tad bewildered. As children of agricultural labour, their life is limited to helping their parents as soon as they are able to do so. For some months now they have been studying a little but never have they been given the freedom to express themselves.
The child who drew this picture lives in a thatched hut and has never seen a house like this one. Come to think of it many Indian kids have not seen a house like this one, with a chimney but you will find them draw them with alacrity as we still have illustrations that reek of colonial times. What is impressive is their ability to copy respecting proportions. The little lad who drew the boat ha need seen the sea; true he lives on the banks of the river, but a river that spews toxic foams and has grey waters. He may live his entire life without see in an ocean but he drew one with flair!
Every alternate day, the Yamuna Project children will have Art classes and I intend to ask Aman to let their imagination run, to give them the freedom to splash colours on paper as their heart desires. I will also ask him to let them draw what they see, the fields they grew up in, the vegetables they know from seed to fruit, something city kids do not.
Let them draw the tree they sit under, the dwellings they live in, the lush fields they run in. Let their imagination grow will and let them enjoy simply being children.