5 Indian NGOs That Use Art To Make A Difference To Society

Isha Mayer
Saturday Art Class
Saturday Art Class

Art has a language of its own. Several organisations have realised its significance and are using this medium to make a change in various communities across India. From moulding a child’s personality to giving women a chance to stand out to creating colourful spaces to live in, the initiative taken by these NGOs have proved how colours can make a difference and provide a better life for people in our society.

1. Saturday Art Class

An initiative started by Chhavi Khandelwal and Manasi Mehan, Saturday Art Class is a brilliant organisation that uses art to imbibe values and shape personalities of children coming from low income backgrounds. The classes are conducted every Saturday and hence the name. The organisation has a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers who go every Saturday to teach children and the reason they enjoy teaching so much is because the kids show that same enthusiasm while learning.

How to make rain 101 ?? @saturdayartclass

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The classes are conducted in BMC schools, low funded private schools and orphanages across Mumbai (8 centres) and children learn the core values—patience, sharing, gratitude, teamwork, respect, cleanliness & equality—of the curriculum through art. For example, pointillism taught the students patience, colour psychology taught them how to express their emotions through colour.

In an environment where kids feel so pressurised these days, the SArC community provides a safe haven where kids can act their own age and enjoy what they learn, which helps overall psychological and character development. 

2. Dharavi Art Room

Started by a JJ School Of Arts graduate, Himanshu S. and joined by Aqui Thami, Dharavi Art Room aims to empower children and women using the medium of art. Himanshu saw how people treat Dharavi as just a slum when there is so much more to it. He wanted the children of Dharavi to show what it meant to them and the problems they faced through art. The kids have expressed themselves and learned so much through various projects of painting walls, taking photographs, music and craft. It also helps women to do something other than just household work and gives them a platform to make friends and learn something new. 

3. Aravani Art Project

February 2018, ……….. In February we had the beautiful opportunity to paint inside the walls of @iihs_in . Our colours & shapes were an artful response to a panel discussion about @aravaniartproject . . Our wall paintings dance between words & images. We practice art as a conversation. We take up all the words people use to create genders & with a paintbrush in hand, & a bucket of paint at our feet, we create a safe space for new words to happen. As artists we encounter eachother without gender. We are artists first, & a hundred other things second. . . As @alokvmenon so powerfully writes … "Body hair has no gender! facial hair has no gender! length of hair has no gender! clothing (skirts, dresses, pants, suits etc.) have no gender! colors have no gender! makeup has no gender! jewelry has no gender! heels have no gender! nail polish has no gender! body parts have no gender! body shapes have no gender! genitalia has no gender! scream it from the rooftops: my body belongs to me, not gender! your body belongs to you, not gender! " . . In the end… Art has no gender! . . To listen to the panel discussion about @aravaniartproject held at the @iihs_in Bangalore click the link in the bio. . . #inclusive #participation #transgendercommunity #art #artforall #fluid #family #community #life #together #feminist #indianwomen #womenatwork #colour #artrist #igers #transgender #india #transandhappy #transandproud

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Based in Bengaluru and started by Poornima Sukumar, Aravani Art Project uses street art to celebrate and empower the transgender community. The idea behind this initiative is to eliminate social stigma, discrimination, violence and harassment towards the trans community, who actively take part in painting walls on the streets so that people know them by their talent and treat them with respect.

Poornima has tried to communicate this message in every intervention and educational drive hosted. The idea is for people from other communities to accept the trans community just the way they are, as humans.

4. Chal Rang De

Started by Dedeepya ReddyChal Rang De is an art community that paints the walls of the Mumbai’s slums with different colours to change the way the world looks at them. The idea is to create a happy neighbourhood and environment for the inhabitants to be confident about where they are staying. The community had undertaken a 6-day project of painting the Asalpha village with an active participation of 800 people that included people from the neighbourhood. They not only painted the walls but also create meaningful and impactful visuals. 

This World Environment Day, Chal Rang De painted ‘No Plastic’ on Carter Road in Bandra in order to send a simple message of how plastic is damaging the environment.

5. Sassoon Dock Art Project by St+art India

‘Life at Sassoon’ by Do & Khatra Indian artist duo, @dostreetart & @bykhatra 's mural for the #sassoondockartproject wraps itself around the facade of the warehouse. ‘Life of Sassoon’ is an abstraction of life in the dockyard as observed by the artists. Through shapes and an array of colors the artists interpret the space, and created a mural on all the sights and sounds they felt upon first arriving here. The yellow patch on the right corner represents a boot worn by the fishermen in the dockyard, and the pink nets above it stands for prawns and a fishing net. The black patch on the right side of the boot is a cat that frequents Sassoon Dock Art Project and the three blue circles on a thin, black horizontal rectangle represent a pulley dragged around the dock by the fisher folk with three barrels on it. The duo also use the pillars in front of their mural, creatively, that from a vantage point, they anamorphise into their mural. Project supported by JSW Festival supported by @asianpaints ? @pranavgohill Check out the process of ‘Life at Sassoon’s’ creation on our blog, St+art Something. Link on our Facebook page. (Swipe for more)

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A very recent one, the Sassoon Docks Art Project by St+art India got over 30 artists on board to revamp the entire space with graffiti, installations and murals of various themes. But how many of us actually know the history of this 142-year-old dock? It’s home to the Koli community and is one of the largest fish markets in the city. It’s the first commercial wet dock in India that helped establish cotton trade and encouraged the Bombay Presidency to promote the construction of the large Prince’s Dock. The Sassoon factories that produced silk and cotton goods in Bombay also gave employment to many. However, a lot of people had forgotten about this and to revive the great history, the art project gave it a colourful makeover so that it is etched in everybody’s memories. 

Art is a beautiful way of bringing change and most importantly, adding colour to everyone’s life. We love how various organisations have used it as a medium to change lives and bring about change in our surroundings, especially when it is the need of the hour. What do you think about the initiative taken by these organisations? Let us know in the comments below.

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