With Valentine’s Day round the corner, Atulyakala’s Heart (Hear+Art) Project was well, all heart! At first sight, it looked like a bunch of artists who had got together to enjoy some painting on a sunny February afternoon at New Delhi’s Crafts Museum. But, it was more than that, since the project brought together both deaf and hearing individuals to collaborate and create art. A sign language workshop was also part of the event.
Atulyakala founder Smriti Nagpal, recently listed among BBC’s top 100 inspirational women globally and top three in India, said on the second edition of the project, “We plan to take these co-created artworks and installations to various venues and galleries to spread the beautiful message of inclusion and co-creation. We believe every change starts from a small step and this is our small step.” She remarked, “The people participating don’t know sign language, but they are creating something wonderful together with deaf artists. We want people to break the walls that are built up in our minds.” Last year’s event roped in artists from College of Art, breaking barriers between the deaf community and others. “The hearing-impaired artists used to remain isolated from the rest. But, that changed after the event. Now, they reach out to each other using sign language.”
While the first edition had mostly participants from College of Art, this year also saw volunteers and others take part in the event. For instance, Vinita, who teamed up with senior artist and Atulyakala’s chief creative mind Amit Vardhan and Ratik, a Class 9 student, came across the event on social media. Liberal arts students Piya and Radhika also came across the event on social media. They termed their painting “Confluence” since everything came together seamlessly, without the need to speak. Another group decided to inscribe the word “Normal” at the heart of their canvas to challenge the definition of what was normal. Said one of the artists, “We’re all normal. I may be able to hear, but may not be able to paint as well as someone who can’t hear.”
The event also had sponsorship support, says Smriti, from “Mr Bawa, Renu Rana of Art Inc and Om Metals, which helped us put together painting materials, t-shirts, etc.”