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Nothing can impair their art

Mukti, an organisation that provides artificial limbs and callipers to the physically challenged, organised a seven-day art workshop for young disabled persons with an aptitude for art. Eminent artists also took part to explain the artistic nuances.


A BOY in a huge turban is learning to play the sarangi, with his moustached father bending over him, correcting the boy's grip on the instrument. Dark and light shades of grey, and white merged to form S. Ramarao's pencil sketches, which were on display at the Lalit Kala Academy as part of Mukti's Art Workshop for the Physically Challenged. Ramarao is a photographer and cameraman, who lost a leg in an accident while returning from an assignment. He hasn't been able to work but "continues to take an interest in photography", says the bio-data next to his paintings.

Mukti, an organisation that provides artificial limbs and callipers to the physically challenged, organised a seven-day art workshop for young disabled persons with an aptitude for art. Eminent artists, including K.N. Adimoolam, Thota Tharani and C. Dakshinamoorthy spent time with the young artists and talked to them about the finer points of art. "The workshop showed us how our own work could be improved," said a speech-impaired artist.

"The most important part was that we realised how great artists use forms and colours. They explained to us that the artist must also represent what he feels, not just the form or scene he sees. So you have to add feeling to the painting to make it truly beautiful, otherwise it just becomes a reproduction of an object," said K. Balamurugan, who's doing a diploma in mechanics and is on crutches because of polio.

K.N. Adimoolam said that most students had doubts about use of colour. "They're a little hesitant about experimenting with colours, we told them to use colours boldly." He explained that the artists just painted, while the students watched, asked questions and picked up lots of tips and some advice. "They're really talented and genuinely interested in art. And every artist, whether established or just starting out, needs encouragement. We were able to give them that," he said.

The paintings that the big names did during the workshop have been donated to Mukti and will be sold to raise funds for the organisation. "The best part about it is that we actually get to meet the people who will benefit from the sale of our paintings. We do donate many paintings to causes, but this is the first time I'm talking to the people I'm trying to help," said Adimoolam.


Archunan, who's planning to join the Government Arts College with Mukti's help, said the time they spent with the artists cheered him immensely. "Seeing what they have achieved gives me hope. I dream of being like them some day." Narasimhalu, who gets around on a little platform with wheels, has cerebral palsy and works with the brush held in his fairly steady feet. His landscapes are absolutely flawless with fine lines and intricate details.

Two physically challenged artists, Kamkar Datta and Sheela, displayed their work during the week. Sheela lost both arms in a train accident when she was four and holds the brush with her toes. Women form the theme of her paintings, while angular shapes, deep reds, browns and ochre dominate Kamkar Datta's work.

"The two artists who displayed their paintings have managed to sell some of their work here in Chennai. The idea of the exhibition and workshop is to let people know that physically challenged artists are extremely talented. We're hoping they can become self-sufficient through their art," said Meena Dadha, chairperson of Mukti.

At the valedictory function of the workshop, Mukti released the first batch of posters on road safety, run off the screen printing press donated by the Chennai Willingdon Foundation. The press will also undertake commercial printing "so that we can provide employment to physically challenged persons as well as try to make Mukti self-sustaining to a certain degree," said Dadha.

SHALINI UMACHANDRAN

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