20 artists, one cause – how the ‘Southern Trends’ art exhibition celebrates creativity and raises funds for education

In this photo essay, we feature creative works from a fundraising exhibition to educate children with disabilities in rural India.
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 600 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.

Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru is host this weekend to the exhibition titled Southern Trends. Organised by Art Cube Gallery in partnership with Rural Reformers and Fourthwave Foundation, the exhibition features the works of 20 artists in a range of styles.

The inauguration featured a live painting performance by AV Ilango, and a mohiniyattam dance by Deepa Chakravarthy. “The power of art can be a catalyst to bring about the much-needed change in society,” AV Ilango says, in a chat with YourStory. He founded Art Cube Gallery along with artists Priya Ilango and Dr. B Dakshayani.

Creativity and philanthropy

The artistic theme of the current exhibition reflects the art, architecture, music and dance of South India. Art Cube Gallery also promotes the work of under-represented artists. Larger community engagement fosters cultural discussions, learning, and broader social impact.

Creativity and philanthropy are combined in this exhibition in partnership with Rural Reformers and Fourthwave Foundation, for enabling quality education for children with disabilities. The artworks are priced from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh.

Specific goals include sustenance of school readiness programmes in Hubli-Dharwad, and support for clusters of villages for a period of three years and beyond.

Art and fundraising

A virtual fundraiser was earlier held with auctions of AV Ilango‘s works in Cupertino, California in September 2021. Funds were raised for the NGO Narika that supports immigrant women’s social causes in the US. Another show titled Crossroads was held in Chennai, featuring 30 artworks from 15 artists,

“There is a two-pronged approach in our vision to promote and offer a platform for young and upcoming emerging artists. From time to time, we also leverage the art show to raise funds for the needy community,” Ilango adds.

“The mission is to create more awareness about art, and edict the viewer on what goes on in the creative minds of artists. This deep understanding can also bring about societal change,” he affirms.

“Artistic engagement by the community leading to patronage to those true storytellers – that would define our success,” Ilango describes.

“As curators, the partners seek to have critical conversations through the artworks displayed. They also offer confidence to the artists that their minds and ideologies get transferred to the canvas in the most creative way,” he adds.

Furthermore, commercial gains can be found through a global market in the form of hybrid art shows (both physical and virtual).

Pandemic impact

The pandemic had a telling effect on creative artists. “Most of them were on the verge of giving up due to bleak opportunities for sales, with the markets down. There was also non-availability and, in some cases, non-affordability, for art materials,” Ilango recalls.

The easing of pandemic restrictions in early 2022 instilled confidence in his gallery to launch the art show aptly called Crossroads. It received good media coverage and social media traction.

Messages and meaning

Ilango urges audiences to take the step forward and understand artists’ journeys.

“Connect and get into the canvas and explore. The first beneficiary is the viewer, who gets transported and transformed into another utopian, sometimes real world, in a different frame of mind,” he describes.

This way of appreciating art also takes care of the individual’s mental wellness. “We saw this with our very own eyes as many took to hobby painting and pets to keep their sanity intact during this pandemic,” he adds.

“The transactional mindset of buying artworks must change into looking at supporting and celebrating the artist’s creativity. Art can also be looked at as an investment,” Ilango emphasises.

He also offers tips for aspiring artists. “Talent to transform ideas into any art form is a rare gift. Especially with the visual arts, when one gets the calling, one must pursue it and put in as many hours to explore and grow with time,” he suggests.

“Just the way a signature takes its own shape and form as one grows, so will the artworks for the young artists as they set on their journeys. They should surrender and let their brush, pen and palette lead them while they stand strong in transferring their ideas into forms,” Ilango advises.

The creative journey

“The decision to get into this space of creative art has thoroughly been one with conviction. As we all know, the first form of recording in all civilisations in history has been through art, architecture and sculpture, starting with cave paintings,” Ilango explains.

He is keenly looking forward to make a difference in the community by taking art to them as they do everyday things, and making it their way of life.

“Just as all individuals are keenly aware that sports and human body training are for physical fitness, creative art one day shall transcend and make each individual take it up for mental wellness and a progressive society,” Ilango signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to harness your creative core?

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

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