This is the fascinating story of a Chemistry teacher who decided to become a Madhubani artist.
Born in Kolkata, Vidushini Prasad finished her Std X from there. With roots in Patna, the family shifted back to Patna as her father was a film distributor and had most of his work there. A graduation and post-graduation degree in Chemistry followed from the Patna University and she took up teaching.
Vidushini taught Mathematics and Science to higher classes while in Patna. She got married soon after and shifted base to Delhi. Even there, she continued being a teacher for a couple of years till her son came along. A career break followed and she started thinking on the lines of becoming an entrepreneur – chasing her own dreams.
I wanted to do something that I could do from home. So I started painting. Initially, it was for decorating my home and making paintings for friends and relatives. Everyone liked my work and encouraged me to pursue it professionally,
says this artist.
And it helped that Madhubani painting had always attracted Vidushini. “The bulging features and sharp nose of the characters, blended with very intricate lines and designs are a delight to watch and even make, so I was drawn towards it right from my college days,” she says.
In between, she had done some work at Career Launcher on curriculum development alongside which she
kept her interest in Madhubani alive by making small little paintings for the house. She took it up full time only after quitting her job.
Though she hasn’t received any formal training in Madhubani painting, she says it was not difficult to pick up. She says she has it in her culture and it was easy to get started on it. Vidushini even conducts workshops for people interested in learning the art. She started a page on Facebook too, through which people are taught about the art.
Getting recognized as a registered NOVICA artist
For someone who got fulltime into painting only around 2006, soon after her son was born, Vidushini got a big break when she got an offer to register her name at NOVICA, National Geographic’s online platform to connect artisans with a global marketplace.
In 2007, Vidushini shifted to Bengaluru with her family and started contacting art galleries for possible shows but she was only met with lukewarm responses. So for a while, she stuck with NOVICA, where she got recognition as an artist and also a number of orders since she had to make a certain number of pieces based on their requirement. Once NOVICA receives the products, they sell it through a host of e-commerce platforms.
While most of Vidushini’s paintings are sold online, an NGO, A Hundred Hands and Eka Lifestyle Retail also help her promote pieces.
So far, Vidushini has exhibited her Madhubani paintings at several Art Galleries across India including Renaissance Art Gallery in Bengaluru and David Hall Art Gallery at Fort Kochi in Kerala.
Besides that, she also displayed her work at Vista, the premier business festival of IIM, Bengaluru. She has also been empanelled by the Central Cottage Emporium, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India as an enlisted artist.
Journey of this creative entrepreneur
It has been nothing short of a wonderful journey for me so far. I am quite content with the response I have got for my paintings sitting here in Bengaluru. Orders pour in from all parts of the country, given that the awareness about art has gone up,
says Vidushini who touches a low each time buyers try to negotiate with her on the price of the painting.
“They don’t seem to realize the effort that goes into each painting and try to bring down the price, that upsets me a lot,” says Vidushini.
While Vidushini gets her handmade paper and canvas from the local market, she sources her nib from Patna, where Madhubani originated.
A satisfied artist
Vidushini is happy that she is able to pursue what she was always interested in doing.
Though it is more work and less enjoyment now, given the increased workload, I am still very happy that am able to pursue something as a career which interests me.
She has even put together a handbook on Madhubani painting which documents the various art forms of India. It is more like a ready reference of art forms and how they are done, sold, exported etc throughout the country and even marketed abroad. She has interviewed ten Madubani artists too for the same. Vidushini clearly has her eyes set on the goal – she wants to establish herself as an artist and spread the word about Madhubani.