A creative session with students reinstated that art can do wonders if used as a therapy to let their feelings out, reports Vishnupriya Bhandaram

Adolescence is about more than having a crush on someone. Confusion over one's sexuality and dealing with parental troubles are part of this phase. But seldom are we given a chance to explore those feelings, most of the times we're not allowed to talk about it. Jubilee Hills Public School recently organised an exhibition of paintings by the children of the school titled ‘Healing Touch'. The paintings were made by the children of X standard and XI standard students. A few of the paintings were solo artworks while some were done as a group. The exhibition is an outcome of the workshop that was conducted by Ganesh Nallari in November last year.

Aarti, the student counsellor at the school says, “The best way to get across to children of these ages is to let them do the talking. Ganesh and I decided to inculcate art into the programme so that the kids get a chance to express themselves without fear or doubt.” She adds that it becomes very difficult for the children to come out on their own and discuss problems, especially about abuse and sexuality. “Most of the times they end up giggling and laughing. They don't understand the depth of the situation.”

During the workshop the children were taught about the concepts of a ‘good' touch and a ‘bad' touch. Ganesh Nallari explained the concept to the kids using simple analogies like the difference between a friend pinching you jovially and a stranger pinching you in the bus or someone you know touching you in places they are not supposed to. “When I was planning this workshop with Aarti, I was very particular that we not tell them about why we were doing this workshop. I wanted the kids to completely express themselves on paper. It helps because you really get to know as to what the children are really going through in their minds.” Art therapy acts as very good form of intervention. Ganesh feels that through a visual representation, children can address their fears and disclose their feelings better because they know that it's left to interpretation and factors like shame and guilt are easily overcome.

Kranti Nag a student of standard X showcased two works, ‘Passion' and ‘Optimism'. While passion is about him and his friendship, it is about a great deal of bright colour that shows that all pervasive spirit of his friendship. While ‘Optimism' showcases three prints of a foot moving forward encapsulating the meaning of walking ahead. Anupriya on the other hand showcased a deep sense of philosophy of ‘Greed' where she shows a green lotus which symbolises life according to her and a skull that represents death. She says, “We are all going to die in the end but it's up to us as to how we're going to make use of the time we have. Are we going to take or are we going to grab…”, there are two hands surrounding the skull and lotus, one against black and one against yellow that represents dark and light. Right next to it is a piece titled ‘Symmetry' which summarises the concept of balance very well.

Aarti says that these works of art reflect a lot about the child's personality and can help gauge the inner turmoil better. “We didn't interfere with their work in any manner. In fact, we gave them the topic of touch and asked them to interpret it in any manner. The only condition we asked them was to not use paintbrushes.” Ganesh adds that when you have the handicap of not being able to use an art tool, creativity shines further. “Some of the kids used their lips to kiss the paper, some used their feet and fingers and palms. The idea was to make their body a part of their expression,” says Ganesh.