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Diversity, sensitivity, empowerment–women’s views of creativity from artists of the Oorja collective

In our final photo essay on the Avyanna exhibition by Oorja, we share more pictorial highlights and creativity tips.

Diversity, sensitivity, empowerment–women’s views of creativity from artists of the Oorja collective

Saturday March 23, 2024 , 6 min Read

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 755 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.

The works of eight women artists were featured in the Oorja art collective’s exhibition titled Avyanna. The artist lineup consisted of Bina Mirchandani, Esha John, Evanka Thimmaiah, Kanthi V, Neelam Malhotra, Pushpa, Ritu Chawla Mathur, and Vanaja Bal.

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The exhibition was held on the occasion of International Women’s Day, and was hosted at the Bangalore International Centre. See Part I and Part II of our coverage, with pictorial highlights and artistic insights.

“We should celebrate and respect women every day, they should be appreciated in every walk of life. Their talent spans family, corporate life and the artistic world,” curator MG Doddamani tells YourStory.

In this photo essay, we profile more artworks and views on gender perspectives, creative journeys, and artistic communities. See our coverage of four years of the Oorja collective’s exhibitions here.


Creativity, diversity and empowerment

“As a woman artist, I’ve faced challenges such as societal biases and limited opportunities for recognition. Despite these obstacles, these experiences have only strengthened my resolve and fueled my creativity,” explains design-artist Evanka Thimmaiah.

Women artists often bring a unique perspective to their work, drawing on personal experiences and emotions that resonate with audiences. “Our ability to empathise and explore themes of identity and empowerment adds richness and authenticity to the artistic discourse,” Thimmaiah affirms.

“Additionally, within artistic communities, women often excel in creating inclusive and nurturing environments, fostering collaboration and support among peers. This inclusive approach contributes to a more dynamic and vibrant art world,” she adds.

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According to Bina Mirchandani, the most important aspect that women artists bring to the table is sensitivity, patience and perseverance.

“We show sensitivity to observe every little detail, patience and perseverance to work slowly on our art, correcting and improving it as we go along, and to give it our best,” she adds. She is also grateful to have a very supportive family to support her pursuit of passions and interests.

As a woman, the key challenge Ritu Chawla Mathur faces is to get enough time to spend with her art. “As professionals, we have often to juggle laptops, home, aging parents, work, and travel,” she explains.


“We then have to find some time when we still feel refreshed and energetic to do some art,” she adds. It can be hard to shuffle between Excel sheets and meetings and then messy paints and canvases.

“As women. we inherently balance the two hemispheres of the brain, right and the left. This helps us multi-task, have work orientation and yet when we’re passionate to a fault on a subject, we learn to give it our all,” Mathur says.

However, she is also of the opinion that gender does not really matter when it comes to art and creativity. “When we are passionate about something, we all can bring something extraordinary and unique on the canvas, irrespective of gender,” she affirms.


Vanaja Bal

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“I see women artists creating some beautiful artwork connected with nature, spirituality and culture,” Vanaja Bal observes. But family pressures and other responsibilities can come in the way of devoting more time to art.

“As a woman artist, the biggest challenge is balancing the everyday home front and managing time. Art and creativity cannot be rushed and finished for a deadline,” designer-artist Esha John emphasises.

Artistic journeys

Mathur recalls that though she had no formal education in art beyond school classes, she decided to ‘stop and smell the roses’ and take time out for her childhood passion. “I’ve always had a bent of mind for art, culture, home interiors, and all things creative,” she says.

Under the tutelage of MG Doddamani, she embarked on a series of public art shows. “I would save images, elements and styles that I liked, and analyse my own art,” she describes.


“I finally allowed myself to pivot and work with large acrylics on canvas. I dabbled with mixed-media to present semi-abstract representation of the ordinary – like doors and windows,” Mathur says.

As a mixed media artist, Thimmaiah recalls that her debut exhibition titled Muḍi, pōnāl, nān showcased six artworks exploring the journey of Kodava womanhood.

“Each piece fused traditional Kodava motifs with contemporary techniques to celebrate women’s diverse roles.” She describes. She now continues to explore the strength, empowerment, and timeless spirit of womanhood through art.

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Art is a deeply personal form of expression. “Art has the power to inspire, evoke emotions, and bring people together. Artists should keep creating and sharing their unique perspective with the world,” she adds.

Art needs a peaceful mind with a focus to achieve one’s best. “As a woman from a design background, I am able to create practical artworks for interior spaces,” John says.

Her works are not just about showcasing talent but also a deep connection to the natural world. “Each painting resonates with a tranquil mood and peace,” she adds.


“I am enjoying this stage of my life as an artist as I come across so many like-minded people leading to some beautiful relationships,” Bal says, expressing her deep feelings of gratitude.

“The success of the first Avyanna exhibition has given me the inspiration and energy to plan more and better events, including exhibitions and workshops,” Doddamani proudly says.

“More ideas are planned in the pipeline which will be brought out in the future with the right support and encouragement,” he adds.

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Mirchandani’s creative journey in art started only recently, after retirement. “I was always interested in art as a child, but for various reasons wasn't able to pursue a career in art,” she recalls.

“After the pandemic, I was detected with cancer, and after I finished my treatment, I decided to take up art seriously and spend more time on it,” she says.

During the pandemic itself, she had looked at photos taken on her travels in India and abroad, and started interpreting them as art. Her overseas travels had taken her to Japan, Myanmar, Norway, and many other places.


Art is now her meditation time. “While painting, the world around me dissolves and I am in a different, calm and serene space,” she enthuses, proud of her first exhibition at Avyanna.

“I believe that the universe has a way of bringing the right people together at the right time, with the sole purpose of personal growth,” Mirchandani signs off.

Now what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and harness your creative side for a better world?


Kanthi V


(All photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the exhibition.)


Edited by Megha Reddy