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Virtual art giving window to students to express emotions during pandemic

Virtual art giving window to students to express emotions during pandemic

Tuesday November 03, 2020,

4 min Read

When the world came to a standstill due to the Coronavirus early this year and we got locked inside the four walls of our homes, a lot of what we took for granted became uncertain, especially when it came to our education. I am a student at a progressive school where learning happens not through rote methods, but through immersive experiences, discussions and projects.

My school encourages pursuit of all forms of Arts as it fosters creativity and imagination, encourages and enables self-expression, and sharing or emotions. These are critical life skills, especially in the current times when social interactions are limited and emotional well-being is often compromised for a lot of people.

A major component of our Arts program is the annual Arts Festival – Kaafila – which is a completely student organized event, running through multiple days and is host to industry stalwarts from across genres. It is not hard to guess that organizing this requires collaboration between students and regular interactions and iterations. We knew that organizing and hosting this virtually would be a mammoth task, but cancelling was never an option.And so after weeks of planning and conceptualization, we hosted the first virtual edition of Kaafila with festivities spread over three days, including interactive workshops, competitions, webinars across all four baskets of Arts: Dance, Theatre, Visual Arts and Music.

Amidst the ideating, designing and planning, the biggest challenge we had to tackle was creating an immersive experience for our participants, ensuring that they feel the euphoria of the festival while sitting in their homes. 

Every idea had to go through the filter of the experience it would yield in a virtual format, especially in terms of engagement for the participants. We drew rough ideas, turned them into concrete presentations and voted on the ones we liked, finally arriving on the of events for each thematic areas.

We were thrilled as we received positive responses from other participating schools for the various competitive events and workshops. To our surprise, We received a whopping 180 entries in 12 categories from over 20 different schools! Clearly, our intent to provide a creative outlet had struck many a chord.

None of us from the organizing team slept much the night before ‘the D day’. We kept cross-checking our to-do lists, thought about all possible scenarios and back-up options in case of technical glitches. But above all, we were just excited to see our efforts paying off into a successful event, with some great experiences for all the participants.

This year’s Kaafila was based on the theme of “freedom” where several unique events were planned for students. One of the key events was a collaborative theatre project, “Collab Lab” where students contributed remotely to create a virtual theatre which was streamed live worldwide. We also created “Art Haat”, a virtual marketplace for artists who have struggled to find buyers in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. Their artwork was put on sale online which was facilitated by students and all proceeds from sales went directly to artists.

Another set of artworks from students, representing non-competitive, reflective and celebratory space while dealing with issues from identity and mental health was featured in a “Virtual Gallery Walk."

Each part of the event - workshops, interactions with renowned artists, song or dance performances,art displays - was exceptional! One could see how the participants had channeled their feelings and creativity into various art forms.

I believe that hosting Kaafila virtually in this pandemic helped us open our hearts and minds and give an expression to our feelings. Had someone told me a year before that we would have to curate this into an online festival, I would have probably laughed at the statement. However, the internet and various collaboration tools available today helped us connect, plan, execute to finally entertain our audience and participants.

Looking back, I feel immensely proud of what we created. In a year with extreme ups and downs, this experience was the silver lining for me.