Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sustainable Hopes

Below is the critique of "Windmills of Hope" by Art critic - Johny ML
Two things cannot be missed out while watching the latest painting series by Srushti Mandar Rao; the vibrancy of lines that reminds anyone of the rhythmic fusion of body, movement, music and light created by a dancer and a heightened awareness of environmental issues. Srushti being a trained painter, dancer and a serious trekker, this pronounced fusion of concerns in her works comes quite naturally and the style that she has developed over a period of time has a characteristic of its own and has got strong art historical affinities with the American Optical Art experiments of 1960s. The new series titled, ‘Windmills of Hope’ brings forth the artist’s idea about a future, which should depend on sustainable development and environmental protection.

The distinct style of painting, which Srushti fondly qualifies as ‘Line-ism’ explores the possibilities of lines and their tonal gradations on a pictorial surface. The planar division of the surface through vertical, horizontal and zigzag lines, as well as through the specific distribution of tonal intensities generates at once the feel of a colorful spectrum and the illusion of a solid image. Srushti invests her energies in the creation of abstract values of colors and lines as a musician focuses on ragas. The works demand the viewer to make physical adjustments so that they could enjoy both the abstract and figurative elements embedded in them.

The present series, ‘Windmills of Hope’ took shape when Srushti visited Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, where she witnessed a series of windmills erected for the generation of alternative power/energy. Windmills, despite their economic and investment values, within their physical appearance and purpose carry an aesthetical appeal (seeing them against the horizon or along the roads that you travel is a thought provoking as well as meditative experience) and a futuristic vision. As an alternative energy resource, windmills, to certain extent assure the preservation of environment in its actual state. Windmills, aesthetically speaking, represent an alternative icon of contemporary times. These icons of our times embody human dignity, mobility and freedom; one could feel it along with the artist.

Interestingly, Srushti in a very subconscious way connects her new series with the way the Impressionists of the late 19th century France had painted their surroundings. It is not just that the Impressionists had painted windmills and today Srushti does the same, but Srushti too like the Impressionists captures the mood of the windmills as per the change of light and time. Windmills are identical with one another. However, in Srushti’s works each one of them carries a distinct personality and a deeper look would reveal that Srushti gives attention in producing the effect the ‘time’ through the selection of particular lights of the day; for instance she sees them like persons walking towards you, or someone seen under moonlight or a cloudy sky. She captures the speed of the rotating blades the way a minimalist like Brancusi would produce the effect of movement in his sculptures.

Rhythmic movements and changing moods of light and time are palpable in the works of Srushti. Though she does not attempt at the actual representation of the landscapes within which these windmills are distributed, through the creation of textural fields and suggestive minimal symbolism Srushti Mandar Rao vivifies not only the physical values of the windmills but also of the landscapes.

art critic, writer, curator
May 2011
New Delhi

And the NGO is - Ishaan Foundation

It was a humongous task to identify and finalize the NGO that I would support from the sale of my paintings through the exhibition "Windmills of Hope". 

The idea was to have an NGO that works in the field of education for under-privileged children. Alongside me fire-fighting with preparation for my exhibition I was deliberating on which NGO to support. 

I had this huge support of Chandni Parekh (@Fundacause) for this task. She not only would answer all my annoying queries right from what should we do? to how can we finalize now? but also went through each and every application that we received for this and added her experienced comments to it. Chandni, a huge thanks to you for your support.

There were essential 3 criteria that I used for selecting the NGO

  1. The NGO shouldn't be a very big one - Larger organisations get a lot of support from corporates and other businesses, my minuscule contribution would not have made much difference to their existing revenues (although it might have added I am sure).
  2. The NGO needs to be working in Children's education - You can read my reasons for this on my previous blog here.
  3. The NGO needs to be in or around Malad - I wanted more involvement than just giving money one time. I wanted to be able to visit the place and have a more human involvement. It is not a short term relationship that I am looking at with the NGO. It shall be longer, i want to see what more I could do with the NGO and be involved in a deeper manner.
One NGO that fulfilled all these criteria is ISHAAN HOPE Foundation for Education & Training (Social benefit & non—profit organization). 

A little about their Project that I have decided to support - 

Educational help to Orphanage: I am in touch with Dr Hema Kulkarni of the Ishaan Hope Foundation who is looking after the project, an orphanage situated in Mudh Island which houses about 65 children varying from 3yrs to 17 yrs. This orphanage does not have government aid as it does not have enough space as well as other infrastructure. Last year 11 students were enrolled in a nearby school. From June 2011, 9 more will be enrolled. The annual fees per student is Rs, 7000/-. This does not include uniforms & textbooks. In fact, Mrs. Buthello (who runs this orphanage) wishes to send 10 more children to school. Although they were unable to undertake this responsibility because of lack of funds.

Until now the children were getting education through National Open School system. However there were no regular trained teachers to educate them. Dr Hema Kulkarni visted the orphanage in 2009 and suggested that it was better for these children to go to nearby regular school. This will not only help them get regular education & training, but also have an opportunity to meet & interact with children from society. This suggestion was accepted by the president of the orphanage. In June 2010 they enrolled 9 young students in Sir J. P. School, Malad (West) as the school principal insisted that the children should have proper documentation. Three other older students were enrolled on Holy Mother English School in Malawani as they did not insist on documentation. Annual fees per year per student is Rs. 7000/- (Seven thousand) which includes bus fare, but not uniforms & text books. 

Eight other students were sponsored by donors from the neighborhood, but they backed out after six months & the foundation had to support these eight students as well for last 6 months. The total expenditure last year on this project was 112000/- (One Lakh twelve thousand). From June 2011, the foundation has to support all 20 students & fees expenditure would be Rs. 140,000/- (One Lakh forty thousand). The principals of the schools have accepted our request that we will pay the fees on quarterly basis. There are more students in the orphanage who need to go to school but because of pausity of funds are unable to. 

The foundation also wishes to help them by providing uniforms & text books but have not been able to do so till now. Mrs. Buthello who runs the orphanage has got permission to start pre-primary school. She wishes that the foundation help her establish this project too. 

In addtion to above, Mrs. Buthollo wishes that more than 10 students who have passed 10th std need to undergo vocational training so that they become financially independent & may be able to move out of the orphanage.

I do hope that I am able to pitch in a substantial amount to help this Orphanage.

I also urge my readers to please see if some more funds can be collected for this orphanage. 

My only endeavor is to make a small difference through my exhibition "Windmills of Hope" and give hope to these children by giving them the gift of education.

Invite to my Exhibition