Why this former network engineer has hosted seven exhibitions on nature and wildlife
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 390 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.
Artists for Wildlife and Nature (AWN), founded by Prasad Natarajan in 2017, is a collective whose mission is to raise awareness about wildlife, environmental preservation, and artistic skills in portrayal of nature. Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru recently hosted the seventh exhibition of AWN (see our coverage of the earlier exhibition here).
Titled ‘Dual 2019,’ the primary focus for this show was on Indian mammals, featuring the works of Prasad Natarajan and Shakthi Prasad. The two artists displayed over 60 works with varying formats for the show. The artworks are priced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 3.5 lakh.
“Our platform creates awareness of the opportunity and responsibility for artists and nature lovers,” Prasad explains, in a chat with YourStory. This former network engineer hopes to extend such collaboration to international artists as well.
"Unfortunately, many top Indian wildlife artists either concentrate on commissioned works or go abroad in search of recognition and awards. Someday, I wish to reverse this trend. Current and upcoming generations need to grow up viewing great quality wildlife art, which will inspire them to take up this art form,” Prasad explains.
Through regular art shows on nature and Indian wildlife, AWN aims to increase public awareness about lesser known species. “These species need similar attention that the larger species receive. Only when we are aware about a species do we want to conserve them,” Prasad observes.
“Natural history art museums and nature clubs are the need of the hour in India. They should also have dedicated gallery space for nature-related art shows, events, and seminars,” he suggests. This can help create more partnerships and a broader movement to preserve nature.
Prasad says he has been fortunate to have art teachers who inspired him to do animal art at a young age. “Nature clubs can bring in the much-needed outdoor culture, which is very much lacking for children in India,” he laments.
The more the young generations are exposed to nature and the outdoors, the easier it becomes for them to understand, appreciate and love nature. “These kids are the future policymakers, industrialists, scientists, writers, and activists. When they appreciate the beauty and complexity of nature, they will take decisions which will have less negative impact,” Prasad explains.
He also calls for more education related to art and nature. “Everyday, there is an orchid or an amphibian that is becoming extinct. Illustrations, photographs and art about such species will draw the attention of policymakers and the public,” Prasad explains.
For the current exhibition, Shakthi created canvas artworks on the larger mammals and resident birds in the Bandipur area. Prasad showed more delicate and subtle works on lesser-known animals, birds and insects, using black-and-white sketches and pen-works. The artworks were sold at the show, via online media, and through regular art collectors.
Prasad urges audiences to spent quality time in galleries rather than just glide through them. “It is amusing and at the same painful for an artist when a visitor hardly makes eye contact with the artwork, which has taken months of effort to perfect,” he regrets.
Prasad calls for strong support for public galleries, and not just private shows or online portals. The quality of art exhibitions and curated shows in India could also do with considerable improvement.
Prasad offers words of advice for aspiring artists as well. “Have another source of income in the early days. Surviving merely by selling artworks is going to be an uphill task,” he cautions. The artist’s journey is long and competitive, and calls for continuous upgrading of skills, clarity of vision, and lots of hard work and discipline. “Visit galleries abroad. Expose yourself to various art forms. Read art history,” Prasad adds.
“Have an open mind, and respect other viewpoints. Self-promotion is a needed evil, even though many artists tend to be introverted,” he cautions. “Work as a community. At the same time, maintain your individuality,” Prasad signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule, and find ways to do to your bit for nature and our precious environment?
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