Children mentored by artists display artworks

New Delhi: Artworks created by children from Delhi and Mumbai, who were paired up with leading contemporary artists under a mentorship programme, are being displayed at an exhibition here.
The show – paintings, sculptures, installations and videos – resulted from workshops of "Partner a Master: artist-mentor,"an outreach initiative of Art1st Foundation in collaboration with Mohile Parikh Centre in Mumbai and Delhi.
"The 'Partner a Master' artist programme has been conceived as an annual project and entails introducing children to artist studios as spaces of imaginative learning, discovery and transformative thinking," says an organiser at the show slated to end August 2 at the Gallery Art Motif here.
Beginning August 2012, students from 30 schools in the two cities participated in a seven-month long program where they interacted with 14 accomplished artists like Shilpa Gupta, Prajakta Potnis, Rohini Devasher, Vibha Galhotra, Saba Hasan and Tushar Joag among others in their studios.
Rian Niranjan Alva, 12, from Sanskriti School whose work is included in the show, says the experience of working with artists was wonderful.
"I have sketched multiple characters to show how at the workshop we transform into different kinds of artists who worked on different material and different techniques" says Alva.
The artists worked along with the children introducing them to different mediums, methods, concepts and subjects "that challenged traditional boundaries of art."
"We saw works where artists had used waste material, cloth, metal, natural materials and even sludge from the river. I worked on glass, elephant grass, paper, bandage stripes, pain, charcoal, clay and wood…," says Alva.
Saba Hassan, a Delhi based artist who participated in the programme says she believes in challenging stereotypes on art.
"I started with usual idea of art myself that involved colours and brushes, but I did not want the same with these kids. I took them out to Hauz Khas and asked them to observe everything around and then work," says Hassan, who has been working in the realm of abstract art.
Several works displayed a the exhibiton seem to be created to inspire awe.
Natasha Lopez, a Class 9 student from Convent of Jesus and Mary, created a tree filled with questions for human race, filled with empathy.
"I was inspired by late Michael Jackson's the "Earth Song" says Natasha.
Nehmat Mongia, Class 11 student from Modern School, used her 10-year-old toy plane to create "something splendid"  which she titled "Flight of Fantasy".
Mumbai-based artist Tushar Joag, who also participated as a mentor had concerns about art education at the school level.
"Not everyone who studies science becomes a scientist but still science is taught with utter seriousness and sensibility at schools. While for arts, there is no such concern, drawing during free classes or making a rain-scene or picnic scene is all what art has been restricted at schools," says Joag.
Agrees Purnima Sampat, an educator-advisor of visual art at NCERT, who visited the exhibition.
"Parents and school administration should understand that it is not so much about the skill but more of thought getting expression," says Purnima. She also raised a genuine concern about affordability of art by masses.
Mumbai-based artist and art collector Ritu Khoda, founder director Art1st Foundation, says she is "happy and proud about the journey of ideas and philosophies through art" and the way "Partner a Master" programme has turned out.
A total of 60 artworks by 29 children – 12 from Mumbai and remaining from Delhi from Classes 7 to 11 from select schools chosen for the programme are being showcased. The exhibition was displayed earlier this June at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj museum at Kala Ghoda in Mumbai.
The Art1st Foundation was set up in the year 2009 by Khoda who teamed up with eight other people, including artist Yogesh Rawal and Shampa Shah.
"Their mission", says Khoda, "was to change the fundamentals of how children were taught art and assist in exposing them to contemporary art practice, not by passive appreciation but by active participation and observation.