We believe art can bring different people together, tell their stories in a unique way, be a way to unwind and connect with yourself and others. We believe art can have a huge impact on our lives and there are examples of that all around us.
Art for Akanksha came together with a team of volunteers from Godrej to do all of that and a little bit more.
On World Volunteer Day, around 60 volunteers from Godrej painted with 6 Akanksha alumni to transform the walls of a pukka Municipal School in Mumbai. This group together helped over a 125 children repaint the walls of their schools – walls that they saw everyday with messages that would remind them of the importance of health and sanitation in their school as well as home.
By Ruchika Gupta
40 children from one of our schools looked enthralled as Shreemoyee from BDL told them all about the museum history – how it was Prince Albert’s personal collection that the museum housed and how it was named after Dr. Bhau Daji Lad for his efforts to raise money to create the museum.
We walked through shelves of artefacts – ivory carved artefacts, pottery, silver work, daggers and swords. There was as much that the adults learnt along with the children. The space itself held all of us in sheer wonder!
Did you know that the carpets there were made by prisoners, that what looked like tiling on the ground floor were actually pieces of stone that were 4 feet high and placed into the ground, or that the ceiling had real gold guilding and that one of the ships carrying the special tiles from England sank on-route.
It was amazing to watch the children who were fidgety and restless, lean forward and try to catch every part of the story and how they leaned over the glass case which had a 3D map of Mumbai – there is so much that we learn when we go out of the classroom, when we meet people who can answer our questions and who push the limits of our imagination.
To me, the highlight of the day was just this and the workshop on silverwork that followed and pushed the kids to put themselves into the shoes of artisans was just the icing on the cake! As a teacher, nothing can give you a bigger kick than to see students’ eye light up with a gleam when they connect with something or gasp with wonder! We look forward to many more workshops at the museum.
The Akanksha children have over the years learnt all about block printing but it’s completely different when you get an artist to teach you. We had Khatri Abdul Rauf, an Ajrakh printer from Gujarat conduct a workshop. The Akanksha schools were privileged to have Indian folk artists from around the country conduct workshops in our schools. As the first leg of a tie-up with Paramparik Karigar, we had 35 students in the Abhyudaya Nagar English Medium School between grades 6 and 8, hear the story of Ajrakh printing from an artisan who breathes the art day in and out. It’s been passed down generations of his family and today through the efforts of organisations like Paramparik Karigar, he gets to take his art into the cities and earn a living.
Ajrakh in Arabic refers to a moonless sky at midnight with the stars sparkling in the darkness. Literally, it could mean ‘keep it for today’ (aj – today, rakh – keep) – it is believed that the more one delays in starting the next process of printing, the more stunning the piece turned out!!
The most exciting part of the workshop for the children was them seeing that the dye that Abdul bhaiya used could be made at home from simple everyday ingredients! They were thrilled to have printed their own little piece of fabric and found the entire process fascinating.
How do you get a group of people who meet once a year to get to know each other, create something special as a team that benefits organisations working with children, do it in 2 hours, push them out of their comfort zone and ensure that it’s an experience that will stay with them forever!?
Art for Akanksha’s response!
Just paint a mural with the Akanksha children. We can paint anything on any surface, any time, any place and with anyone who will paint with us!!
The Akanksha alumni painted a 65 foot long version of Eric Carle’s book ‘The hungry caterpillar’ in 2 hours with a group of Dartmouth alumni. The group of 15 people had not painted in years and certainly not on such a large surface. They meet every year but this was the first time they were meeting in such a unique manner. The mural was painted in the Ummeed office. Ummeed’s mission is to help children with disabilities or at high risk for disabilities, reach their maximum potential and be included in society.
The experience was one that left everyone feeling good about what they did, felt that they had been pushed to try something new and it was amazing to watch the team and children at Ummeed react to their new wall.
Many thanks to Nandita and Raj who made this happen and for Vibha and her team at Ummeed for having complete faith in Art for Akanksha.
Art for Akanksha murals are a great way to have a space transformed while painting with a group of little artists from Akanksha. We paint office spaces, bedrooms, schools – we just need a brief and a wall!! Get in touch with email@example.com
The Akanksha schools were privileged to have Indian folk artists from around the country conduct workshops in our schools. As the first leg of a tie-up with Paramparik Karigar, we had 35 students in the Shindewadi Mumbai Public School between grades 6 and 8, hear the story of Gond art from an artisan who breathes the art day in and out. It’s been passed down generations of his family and today through the efforts of organisations like Paramparik Karigar, he gets to take his art into the cities and earn a living. This art form is popular among most tribes in Madhya Pradesh and it is particularly well developed as an art among the Gond tribe of Mandala District. The students, who were very excited to see the artist in person, asked him several questions around when he started painting, what were the different mediums he uses, how he makes natural colours and more! They were curious to know how they could make their own colours at home if they wanted to. As the children concentrated on creating their own special pieces, one said, “You need a lot of patience to make Gond art as it has very detailed work.”
The Akanksha students got the chance to experience an art in a way that is rare – through the eyes of someone whose life story is intertwined with the story of the art form. Ramesh Tekam bhaiya enthralled the students and gave them a chance to keep his art alive.
Rian wanted his room painted. It needed to capture what was important to him. The designer working in his home as well as his mom, simply could not put a brief down. We got the chance to meet, see the room and hear the story he wanted depicted. It had to have superman, show his home planet as well as earth, had to have him zooming to rescue someone, a building on fire was a must, and of course an alien spaceship!
Art for Akanksha to the rescue!! We can paint anything on anything!
So with a tiny team we helped Rian with a few sketches, got him to do research and find reference images as well as work on his own sketch and then sent in a more stylised design of what we could do for him.
2 akanksha alumni worked with him through the day to paint his wall and were joined by his mom, dad, nani and sister as well! Each brought in their own way style and philosophy as well as additions to the mural. Rian’s sister even added a tower with Rupanzel’s hair flowing down!
What started as a simple superman to the rescue story evolved and unfolded before us – there were pancakes on fire, spongebob’s home, a catapulting ice cream store and many other such additions which made his wall and his room a special little part of the home.
The experience was one which gave Rian a chance to be a part of the process from start to end, pushed him to express his thoughts, to be fine with the understanding that ideas evolve and change and grow as you work on them as well as to make him see that its important to push yourself to do things you’re not always confident about.
If you want a mural painted, get in touch with us. We’ll help you create a story of your own.
Book reading, furniture painting and fun galore
Art for Akanksha’s summer workshops at Ashok Tower teed off once again this year. The children tried their hand at furniture painting as they learnt its nuances, different art techniques and introspected on some incredible Dr. Seuss quotes. Oh the places they went and the stories they shared! They went where “It’s opener there in the wide open air,” because they wanted to fly and soar. They discovered their super powers and donned their super hero look. Vir – the super climbing man, Ahaana’s super hero name was ‘Flexi’, Tara – the Mathemagician, Arishka – whose super power was her ability to sing and enchant others! And so very many more… The book reading sessions set the pace for the day, with the kids enacting their favourite parts. The kids were so excited to see their piece of art on the furniture that they couldn’t wait to take them back home and proudly display it to their families. We were happy to receive messages from mothers to let us know that their kids had a blast and were eager for more such art activities in the future.
For information on art/ birthday party workshops do mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
At Art for Akanksha, we believe that art can be a special way of bringing together children from different spheres of society, empowering each with the knowledge that no matter how different they are they still have the same potential.
Art for Akanksha empowers children from low income communities with a powerful art education, provides art-related career opportunities for Akanksha alumni and generates revenue through high-quality products.
Picasso installation by Art for Akanksha students awarded third place at the Kala Ghoda
The tall, colorful, almost bizarre Picasso installation blends in beautifully amongst the many at the Kala Ghoda festival. There are installations on Andy Warhol, Zakhir Husain, Brinda Miller, Henri Rousseau and many others. As you walk by these pieces of art, you’re blown away with what children can do, what art can do for children and what schools can do if they believe in the power of art for their children.
What you don’t really think of seeing are the placards next to each which proudly say who’s created them. If you looked at those you’d realize what an incredible social leveler art can be. Within that little garden of the Prince of Wales museum, you have some of the most privileged schools along with government schools. And you’d never be able to guess which belonged to which.
It makes me believe even more strongly in the power of art, it makes me believe what we have always believed at Akanksha – children are essentially the same, they only differ in the opportunities that they have access to.
As I got calls and emails congratulating us for getting third place for our Picasso installation, I felt proud of my Akanksha children and teachers because they can do anything they set their minds to. Resources matter and make a difference, but belief, determination and passion is what will always make that bizarre, tall, wildly colored Picasso stand out. So proud!
Director, Art for Akanksha
“I cannot understand Raza’s art but I have learnt that it is alright to not always understand things.” Suraj
SH Raza was fascinating to study because there was so much to understand and so much that was left to the students to interpret and make their own. It left students with the sense that no matter how they saw a piece of art, it was right – what was important was that they tried to connect it to their lives and to find meaning for themselves.
Like Suraj said, you can’t always ‘get it’ when you see a piece of art; so much of the story is left for you to interpret.
Artists of Abhyudaya Mumbai Public School – an MCGM school run in partnership with the Akanksha Foundation
Visit the Prince of Wales Museum gardens and send in your pictures with the Art for Akanksha installations at email@example.com!
Going Cubic with Picasso
Sunflower in the making
Learning Van Gogh
Working on Starry Night
“Picasso wanted to do something different. So he came up with Cubism. Cubism was totally different from what the artists before Picasso had ever painted.” Says Rohit.
This installation has been all about having fun while learning about Cubism and specifically the life and works of Pablo Picasso.
The disjointed elements of this piece of art were a riot to put together! And it was a great opener for discussions around ‘What is art?’ Who decides what is good art?
We don’t have the answers but as a group, the students got thinking about them.
This is a labour of love by the children of Shindewadi Mumbai Public School
To know what Picasso taught Rohit do visit the Prince of Wales Museum gardens. Send in your pictures with the installation at firstname.lastname@example.org and keep watching this space for more updates on other masterpieces by the Akanksha children. We look forward to your comments!