Art for all: how Ignite School of Passion has taught art to 5,000 students, and exhibited their works in India and Dubai

In this photo essay, we share highlights from the ongoing Vista exhibition in Bengaluru, along with insights from artist-teacher Shole Madhusudhanan.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 425 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Ignite School of Passion is hosting the ninth edition of its Vista art exhibition this weekend at Bengaluru’s Rangoli Metro Arts Centre, featuring over 200 paintings by 100 student artists. Located near the MG Road Metro Station, the art centre also has a range of upcycled art from electronic components and wires, and has emerged over the years as a popular hub for theatre, music, dance, art, and design.

“The vision of Ignite School of Passion is making people live their passion,” explains artist and art teacher Shole Madhusudhanan, in a chat with YourStory Media. She founded the school in 2011, and has brought her childhood passion for colours to a much larger audience.

In its journey so far, Ignite has successfully taught 5,000 students and conducted over 18 national exhibitions and two international shows. Participating in public events helps students connect to the broader art community and movement, and not just learn colours, Shole says.

She cites Pablo Picasso in this regard: Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up. Every Ignite student is considered an artist and every artwork is framed to ensure the student artists take pride in their work,” Shole explains.

Students are taught a range of mediums such as watercolour, acrylic, oil paint, oil pastel, charcoal, and colour pencil. Ignite’s Vista platform involves an exhibition series conducted every three months.

Over the years, Ignite students have showcased their artworks at Karnataka Chithra Kala Parishad, Venkatappa Art Gallery, and Chitra Santhe. “Ignite students have participated in World Art Dubai alongside thousands of renowned global artists,” Shole proudly says.

Ignite doesn’t approach art just as a subject to be taught in a class, but a concept to be guided from within each human being. From ages five to 65, art students can choose flexible timings to study and practice.

Now in its ninth edition, the Vista exhibition features the works of over a hundred students. “It gives the students the joy and pride of displaying their art pieces in a gallery, which is the dream of every budding artist,” Shole affirms.

Preparation for the Vista exhibition began two months ago, with teachers selecting the artworks based on proficiency. “Art is all about an individual’s perspective. Every student is unique and brings a different perspective irrespective of physical ability,” Shole explains.

“Our experience shows that differently-abled students are more creative and are fast learners. We learn a lot from these students,” she adds. Ignite conducts regular workshops for students with autism and Down syndrome.

“Art at Ignite is a way of life. Art is therapeutic and touches the soul. It is a form of meditation which connects one to the inner self,” Shole describes.

She calls for broader appreciation and promotion of art as a profession in Indian society, and not just a hobby. “There is a dearth of professional art institutions that can take art to the masses,” she laments.

Success for Ignite is defined by the happiness of the students when they complete their work and thank their teacher, Shole explains. “Student testimonials are the best reward; they also result in references that define the commercial success of the institution,” she adds.

“Art needs to become affordable and must reach the masses. Promotion of art as a career option will ensure more students take up art,” Shole suggests.

The artworks at the Vista exhibition are priced from Rs 1,500 to Rs 20,000. The next exhibition will be in Coimbatore. “Exhibitions are a platform for students to display their skills and grow their confidence,” Shole explains.

“Art enthusiasts visit our exhibitions, appreciate the artists, and are amused by the perspectives. They commend the breaking of barriers of age and ability, and bring energy and enthusiasm to these exhibitions,” she proudly adds.

“Every artwork brings a story and the audience should dig a little deeper to connect to the story,” Shole advises. She also offers tips for aspiring artists.

“Live your passion. Spread happiness through the vibrant colours that you use to make life more beautiful,” Shole signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and explore the full diversity of your creative sides?

Shole Madhusudhanan

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