Grant Period: Six Months
This grant will enable Aditi Chitre, a Mumbai-based animation filmmaker and a painter based in Mumbai, to conduct a two-week experimental storytelling and visual arts workshop for school children in Nagaland. The workshop is aimed at creating a liberating environment in which children can express themselves in new ways unhindered by the notions of the ‘folk’, ‘traditional’ or ‘national’.
Aditi’s first trip to the northeast culminated into an award-winning animation film called ‘Journey to Nagaland’. Subsequently, she was invited by the North East Network (NEN), a local NGO, as a resource person to conduct visual arts workshops for children. These particular workshops were crucial for Aditi in that it helped her discover the immense talent and predisposition a large number of children possessed for the visual arts in an environment that did not offer formal arts guidance and training. While music has always been a very important part of Naga culture, receiving school, church and state patronage, the visual arts did not find much support. The experience of working with 21 children from two villages left her feeling amazed.
With the IFA grant, Aditi will work with twelve school children in the age group of 10-17 years. Of the twelve, six of them will be children whom she has already worked with in her previous workshop and six will be new participants. The workshop will be conducted at an informal art studio at NEN’s centre in Chizami, a village located in the east of Nagaland, about 30 kilometres from Kohima and a couple of hours drive from the Indo-Burma border. The workshop process has been envisaged in three parts. Following a preparatory phase, during which the children will start keeping personal diaries, the workshop will move to focus on storytelling and writing. During this phase, Aditi will work with a Naga writer to facilitate story reading and storytelling sessions where children will be encouraged to depart from, distort or improvise upon the ‘known’ folk tales to create original stories. In the final phase of the workshop, the participants will explore different styles of narration and visualisation, and experiment with mixed media, such as pen and ink, painting, photography and even weaving, to illustrate their stories.
The project will result in a designed book consisting of large colour prints of the short stories illustrated by the children. Besides documenting the works of the children, a major section of the book will contain detailed process documentation, along with Aditi’s notes from her earlier workshop in Chizami. Another key outcome of the project will be the exhibition of the artworks. The children’s original works will first be exhibited at the NEN Centre in Chizami. On completion of the designed book, another larger exhibition will be held at Dimapur, the cultural hub of Nagaland. The artworks and the designed book will be exhibited at the venue along with a looped video presentation of the workshop process. The exhibition will provide an enriching space for interaction and sharing between the young artists, the visiting parents, teachers, government officials and the media.
By introducing the visual arts into this context, it is hoped that this project will considerably influence and broaden the field of the arts as well as arts education in the Nagaland.