Historically, art and craft have been synonymous in India. Artisans would make handicrafts, idols, and wood or stone carvings. Potters would create vessels purposed for storing water and grains. Handicrafts were not made to be original, and pottery was not a form of beauty but a form of function.
Because artisan work has not historically been revered in India, there is a gap in valuing of art. I believe the problem and solution lies within education. I have found that children are taught to memorize and not to create. One day, I was helping a student study for her exams. To my surprise, she had written and memorized full paragraphs of opinion text. When she forgot a word, she would look to her top left, recall the text, and finish her recitation. Her memory is sharp, but I did not observe any creative exercises. If a child is not given room to develop her innate creativity, creativity will be a forgotten acquaintance. In the last several decades, these children have turned into adults with dominating professions in the army, medical field, and engineering practices. No one wants to be a starving artist.
In case you haven't seen it, this popular TED talk explains the importance of creativity and its insufficient support in traditional school systems.
An interesting shift has been taking place in Bangalore. There is an emerging creative workforce is at a great internal battle between ‘creating something they love’ and ‘working somewhere approved by society (and parents).’ I have had several conversations with people who have this dilemma. Either they are proud of their anti-conformist transition to the arts and humanities, they are tolerating the approved technical work because they can support themselves, or they are still struggling to support both roles.
Creative art exists in this city. I have seen a variety of handicrafts in art festivals that innovate old regional and national artisan techniques.
“Meeting the demands,
Meeting the deadlines,
Meeting the needs,
Making ends meet…”
Why does this interest me? I believe that art helps direct a culture. I value art because it represents an individual's perception and imagination. Therefore it is important to support artists. I realize that I am lucky – I am able to work in both technical and artistic areas in Bangalore. It had been amazing to live in the "Silicon Valley of India," a city that also has immense artistic growing pains.
Here is an update on my ceramic work:
Check out these artists:
1. Clay Station production creates individual works, as well as dish or mug sets for local restaurants.
2. The band, Kalari - strike a chord fuses folk, indie, and rock. Watch this.
3. Among many artistic and design endeavors, Sen created the art form gesturism, merging his two homes: Bengal and France.
4. And me! Haha. Check out this site.
Thanks for reading.