So this was the pact. I was to teach children to create a certain artifact which would be later auctioned. This was a 'Teach for India' initiative and my very first association with an NGO. I decided to teach a simple craft of 'painted terracotta Diya's' which did hold commercial value with Diwali fast approaching round the corner.
|Image courtesy- A fellow crafter|
The teaching experience was quite humbling. There were no chairs and we had to squat on the floor, spread our newspapers to avoid getting the mat dirty. The kids were super excited on seeing so much paint and a variety of embellishments. There was palettes everywhere, paints and paint brushes scattered around and I found myself in dismay. There was utter cacophony despite my plea for silence.
After a two hour ordeal, we were done with our Diya's. Amidst the disorder and confusion, was born a creation. The 20 pieces of painted Diya's stood out in all grandeur. There was a lot to those Diya's than just colour. There was an unexplained beauty to it, something so profound and magical. The disorder and chaos had reached the equilibrium of completeness.
I waited patiently until the class monitor put the Diya's away in a safe corner. There was something so raw about these children. The old government school, creaky chairs, the dusty corridors didn't just matter. They spoke broken English, gave tiny handshakes and bony hugs and asked me to come again. And they didn't even know my name!
Art has a responsibility to create chaos, to super cede limits and kill ideologies. A great piece of art can come from anywhere, anything else born out of order is just a stagnated product. I think we did something remarkable that day and I went home with a smile. A sense of joy of having created something beautiful right at the center of a vortex!
|That's me and the kids with our Diya's|
Note: 'Teach for India' is an NGO which focuses on eliminating educational inequality in India. The activity was spearheaded by Ms.Lakshmi Venkataraman and the Chennai Crafters Group. Various crafter's accross Chennai volunteered for the activity and the proceeds from the sale of these artifacts was used to buy educational supplies for schools.