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Giving art a chance

Monday, April 28, 2014
By Natasha Rego

NGO plans to create giant murals on walls across city showcasing the talent of street kids

Street children would make honest interpreters of urban society if we gave them the chance. But our educated minds may not speak their language. Nor they, ours. So if we put the tools in their hands and allow them to articulate their thoughts through a universal language – art – there may be a message for us to reflect upon. This is precisely what the Dharavi Art Room (DAR), through the ‘Muralswallahs’ project, intends to do on Mumbai’s public walls.

The young proprietors of Dharavi Art Room, Himanshu S. and Aqui Thami, have been working with children and teachers in BMC schools for some years now. As the name suggests, they’ve also penetrated Dharavi. Over the years, they have built a strong support base of children and their families who, on weekends and holidays, step out and transform the walls around their homes.

Now, with Muralswallahs, they want to go to 12 other areas of Mumbai, introduce communities there to the ethereal possibilities of art, collate their ideas and transform 12 public walls into giant murals made from a collage of the children’s powerful, influenced yet uninhibited imaginations.

“We will gather children from each area and conduct a workshop with them for about a week. At this time we will have the kids identify their themes – about their neighbourhood, or an issue they are dealing with – it will connect the life of the neighbourhood with that of the larger community,” murmured Himanashu over the rambunctious gathering of children at the Dharavi Art Room last Sunday.

“The next step will be to have them draw individual pictures. The drawings will be collected and studied, then converted into one coherent design.”

The following week, the kids will be paired and guided into painting the mural up on the wall.

The Muralswallahs proposal which can be found on www.orangestreet.in states, “The process is not just painting murals, but interacting with the community and creating images with them.”

Tackling two areas a month, minding the gathering and organising art supplies and logistics will take assistance: financial and physical. Muralswallahs is looking to the masses to donate money and volunteer to help them realise this project. After all, it is meant to be a community effort.

Art is a tool with which we could free ourselves from what separates us from each other.

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