Blaise Joseph and Atreyee Day

Arts Education

Grant Period: Over nine months

Blaise and Atreyee are artists trained from M.S. University, Baroda, with a deep interest and commitment to arts education projects. They have lived and worked in many places across the country with a grounded understanding of the communities and the children that they have worked with. Their recent settlement in Belgaum exposed them to the Government Primary School, Vijayanagar, a primary school near their house, which offers Kannada and Marathi language education mediums in a single premise. The richness and problems of a multilingual culture in this school as well as its location so close to an interstate border, peaked their interest in working with this particular school, given their experience of working with schools at interstate borders earlier.

Keeping in mind the context, environment and the potential of the school, Blaise and Atreyee envisage an intense engagement with seven teachers and 150 children by introducing them to a variety of art activities such as drawing, collage making, painting, mural making and gardening. Not confined to the traditional understanding of teaching art to children, their engagement will be a process allowing the teachers and children to explore their inner-realities and express them creatively with available materials from their surroundings. Blaise and Atreyee have been researching and making connects with local artists and understanding the materials that are available and accessible to the children in their homes and local markets. The attempt has also been to locate resources who can work with the children and teachers from their own contexts in the field of visual arts - particularly mural art, graffiti, rangoli, chittara (wall paintings) and other local art forms. Beyond the visual arts, priority will also be given to action songs and non-competitive games that free the participants from inhibitions, rigidities and fears. As artist-facilitators Blaise and Atreyee will work with the teachers and students once or twice every week through an entire academic year through their journey of learning and self reflection. They have laid emphasis on the teachers and children keeping journals to document their experiences.

One significant aspect of this project is to invite teachers to become ‘Co-Learners’, ‘Co-Researchers’ and finally ‘Co-Facilitators’ as they attempt to create a culture and curriculum of arts education within the school. The attempt will be to help teachers expand their understanding of the arts as experiences that shape the way we view and interact with the world rather than a set of tools to use or skills to create objects. Through the teacher training workshops that will happen through the year, they will dwell deep into how the teachers feel and express as individuals rather than train them in certain artistic techniques. While the teachers learn how to handle different materials and use various tools the focus will be on self expression. They will further aid the teachers to understand the learning milestones of the children, the block they face, the special needs they may have and their latent qualities.

This grant was made possible with support from Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore.