From creativity to criticism: what these artists teach us about success
In our final photo essay on the Whitefield Art Collective, artists Sapna Dube and Kalyan Rathore share insights on creativity, career, and community.Madanmohan Rao
PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 310 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery, world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
Held at VR Bengaluru, the fourth annual edition of the Whitefield Art Collective (WAC) features a range of established and emerging artists. The exhibition is part of an initiative spanning four cities, with the works of 200 artists (see our coverage of the WAC editions in 2018, 2017 and 2016).
The exhibition this year is titled ‘Connecting Communities through Art,’ and is showcased in Part I, Part II, and Part III of our photo essay, along with insights from the artists and the curator, Sumi Gupta.
“The public role in public art is absolutely essential to me as an artist. People enliven my work, I’m eager to see how people are inspired, intrigued, motivated and provoked,” said artist Sapna Dube, in a chat with YourStory.
The works on display at WAC 2019 are part of her collection ‘Elephant As God’. But though the elephant god is worshipped in India, atrocities against elephants in the guise of religion and tourism continue. “Through this Ganesha series, I want to create awareness and inspire activism about elephants in captivity,” Sapna explains.
She commends VR Bengaluru for fostering a sense of beauty, pride, and ownership in the community. She sees art as a vehicle for communication as well as memorialising stories, emotions, and dreams. “Art is a chronicler of society. Art is also fun and therapeutic - both the making of it and the viewing of it,” she adds.
It is hard to define success for an artist – it could be from invitations to exhibit, sales, or the passion of the journey. “It’s not about whether I succeed or fail as an artist. It’s about the kind of person I become as I do the work. Does it make me feel more authentic? Am I coming from a place of integrity? Do I share generously? Am I grateful? And most importantly, am I actually making art, good art,” Sapna asks.
She has been awarded a grant by Art In Transit in association with Bengaluru’s Namma Metro to develop a site-specific, interactive public art installation. Art In Transit is a public art project, an initiative of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. Titled Letter, Sapna’s work will be inside the Cubbon Metro Station, located next to the GPO.
“In the age of instant everything, I want to revive and remind people of the beauty of a short, simple, personal, handwritten note that is irreplaceable,” she explains.
Artist Kalyan Rathore sees art as an exploration of the unknown, a medium through which many aspects of abstraction can be reached. “Some may be fascinated by its beauty, some by its power to communicate an idea and some in how it evolves oneself,” he explains. His exhibited works reflect the beauty and symmetry in geometry and mathematics, balanced with elements of change and chaos.
Success for Kalyan is having enough work so that the next idea can take shape; it also comes through inspiration and recognition, whereby money becomes a by-product. “Art is meant to be a friend and not a snob. Art in VR Bengaluru is like a friend you bump into when you least expect it. To view and enjoy art in the Whitefield Art Collective is like eating when you are hungry,” he explains.
Both exhibitors offer a range of tips for aspiring artists. Sapna stresses the importance of articulation, technical mastery, business networking, and financial planning. “An artist today has unfettered access to the who’s who of the art world, all thanks to the Internet. Make the most of that. An artist needs to be more than an artist - be well read and well informed, and that will come across as being a better, larger, and more impressive artist,” she advises.
The creative journey calls for continuous learning and skilling across fields and languages. “Read as much as you can - stories, self-help, science, psychology, current affairs, history, criticism, everything, every day. The successful artist is the person fully living the contemporary life. Embrace that. Most of all - keep making art, lots of it,” Sapna urges.
“Have self-value and work by connecting within your deepest self,” Kalyan advises. “It helps to be able to switch modes and play the role of a thin-skinned learner and a thick-skinned doer. Wisdom, however, is to know when to be thick-skinned and when to be sensitive,” Kalyan evocatively signs off.
Now, what have you done today to appreciate the beauty and power of art, or to expand your creative self?
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