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Let's HEAR it for them

An exhibition of artwork by hearing impaired people was a humbling experience



There was much bonhomie among the special artists. — Photos: K. Bhagya Prakash

AT THE valedictory function of an art exhibition, things were getting so noisy in the back row that a senior had to quieten down the enthusiastic audience. People were congratulating each other for their stunning paintings, sketches and other artworks exhibited at Suite 600, Hotel Grand Ashok. That the audience consisted mainly of hearing disabled citizens of Karnataka is what makes the occurrence special!

To mark World Disabled Day on December 3, the Association of Hearing Disabled Citizens of Karnataka had arranged a three-day art exhibition. Students from 17 special schools participated. Artists from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat selected works that were displayed at the exhibition inaugurated by B.K. Chandrashekar, Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education. "I would have really missed an opportunity to see something so beautiful if I had not come," enthused Malathi Holla, the wheelchair-bound athlete who has won acclaim both here and abroad for her achievements. "Our physical work pales in comparison to this art," said the lady graciously at the prize distribution ceremony. Many of the paintings and dot work by professional artist Rajni were already sold out as were some of the works of other professional artists like Venkatesh and M.C. Ganesh. The exhibition featured the works of Chitrakala Parishat students Priya Darshini and Vinky Munshi.

"I love art," writes Vinky, a 4th year BFA student of Applied Arts at the Chitrakala Parishat. "Painting has a special language with a universal appeal." She is married to Samir Munshi, a `garrulous' 2-D animator, model and artist. He proudly shows off his work and those of his wife at the exhibition, not in the least hampered by his inability to speak.

Such is the spirit of the artists that many in the audience were left dumbstruck. Young K.L. Arun, a Class 10 student of Sheela Kothwala Institute for the Deaf was one of the prizewinners who has always wanted to paint. His schoolmate Tilakavathi is still in primary school but her crayon art speaks volumes for her imagination.



Quite a few works displayed at the exhibition were sold out.

The exhibition was sponsored by Hotel Grand Ashok and Camlin. One of the active coordinators of the event was A.K. Umesh, table tennis champion who has held inter alia cricket and kite-flying events for hearing impaired people.

Tell him that he has done a wonderful job in organising the art exhibition, and he gives a big grin as soon as he lip-reads your words. "It has been my pleasure," he gesticulates, "to get so many young people to participate in this event." He is supported in his cause by his `hearing' wife Girija, a schoolteacher, who is his voice.

Under the bonhomie at the get-together of friends at the exhibition, one could read the message — we want a fair chance to exhibit our talents, not a favour from the physically abled. Vikas Varma showed me his beautifully written resume. "... life is a silent movie which I watch everyday... " For the artists who showcased their work at the exhibition, life is a silent movie, but one which they watch lovingly, carefully and reproduce on canvas — with plenty of chutzpah and panache.

MALA KUMAR

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