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Painting as Poverty Relief?
Alex Steffen, 4 Aug 04

Painting is usually thought of as the road to a thin-cheeked bohemianism in the West, but this group of caste-busting Indian women activist-painters are preserving a traditional art form while rising from poverty:

"Over the last two decades, the BVM [Bharati Vikas Manch] has fought deep and well-entrenched caste prejudices in rural Bihar by successfully creating a legion of women artists, all trained and equipped to create and sell Mithila paintings -- works that have been celebrated and patronised by patrons of the arts across India and abroad. ...

"Over the years, Kashyap and his band of women activist-painters have set up training cells across Bihar, in 23 villages, 10 in Kusheshwarsthan alone -- one of the most backward areas of northern Bihar. Many continue to function on their own, without any assistance from the BVM. A number of KashyapÂ’s students have set up individual initiatives in the villages they marry into, thus spreading the movement."

Pretty cool. The next step here, though, would be for some enterprising soul to put together an online sales system, perhaps something similar to Zimbabwe's Mbira.

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This is great, Alex. That wheezy bumper-sticker saw, "Art saves lives," clearly takes on a really different significance in the developing world.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 5 Aug 04



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