An Art Workshop was organized by CARP (Company of Artists for Radiance of Peace), LIPI (Loyola Institute of Peace and International relations, Kerala), and GJEM (Gujarat Jesuit Ecology Mission). Nineteen professional artists from India and abroad – Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Manila (Philippines) – converged for VAW (Vagamon Artists’ Workshop) at Vagamon (Western Ghats) in April-May, 2019. It was a wonderful place to commune with Nature, inspiring artists to immortalize the communion into Works of Art.
Warli Adivasis from Maharashtra creating Warli paintings; a young woman doing her BFA; a Jesuit professor of Fine Arts from “Ateneo de Manila” (Philippines) creating Art from waste pieces of cloth; the Principal of a Theologate painting the pain of Paris at the destruction of ‘Notre-Dame Cathedral’; a Belgian Sister making tiny dolls depicting the life of poor women; a professional cartoonist’s cartoons that communicated volumes; a parish priest painting colourful, delicate leaves and flowers. There were Sisters with Art degrees from India and Italy; a monk from the Kurishumala Ashram of Vagamon; accomplished women and men artists, a Capuchin; a CMI; a few Jesuits… The place and the diversity of artists and Art made VAW a deep experience for all!
We mingled, merged and painted from early morning, right through the day and late into the night. At night we gathered to share, see, hear and discuss, enjoying the imagination, creativity and skills of each artist. All painted with joyful intensity inspired by Mother Earth.
At sunset we celebrated the Eucharist in God’s own cathedral under the sky in the shade of trees, with birds and crickets joining us to praise and thank God. It was an experience of the Creator Lord’s presence with us, celebrated with gratitude.
A full day was dedicated to ‘Children/Youth – Art and Mother Earth.’ Environmental and Art awareness programmes were conducted for 150 youth preparing for the UPSC exams and 40 local children. Divided into groups of 50, a group was led to a ‘Nature Walk’ to relish Nature, always seen, but rarely closely observed and absorbed. Another group sang and danced to Environmental Malayalam songs. The third group admired, interacted and discussed with the VAW artists at work. The children painted in small groups using their fingers, hands, etc. The whole atmosphere was bubbly for kids/youth – full of life, enthusiasm, chatter, and laughter.
Jesuit Artists and Environmentalists from three Jesuit organizations – CARP and LIPI (Kerala), GJEM (Gujarat) – had met at Sameeksha, Kalady in May, 2018, and dreamt of an Art and Ecology workshop. The POSA gave his blessings and support. In a year the dream became a reality in VAW: ‘Drawing from Nature – Art and Mother Earth.’ More Art and Environment workshops are planned across India to wean children/youth away from the grip of Electronic and Social Media, to live ‘the now’ in communion with Mother Earth in OUR COMMON HOME.
- Rappai Poothokaren, SJ