In a, quiet corner of the city, was a gathering of artists and enthusiasts — established and amateurs — with a common wish to identify and appreciate the best young artists of our city.
It was Holi, International Women's Day and it was right in between board exams for a lot of the city's youth. Yet, in a secluded corner of Besant Nagar, a couple of dozen students assembled to participate in Art Smart, a search for the best young artistic talent in the city.
Conducted by Art Chennai, it was the run up to the second edition of eight days of art uninterrupted. Before the art extravaganza began, the organisers had, for the first time, opened up their doors to students, enthusiasts and amateurs of art trying their hand at expressing themselves in whatever manner they chose.
Ask Amritha Jagannathan, a 13-year-old participating in the Mixed Media category, on how she learnt of this platform and she testifies by the power of technology.
“I saw their Facebook page and mentioned it to my teachers. We took up the challenge and a few of us came out with our thoughts on the theme Chennai. I chose mixed media because I believe no one can bring out the essence of Chennai in paint and so, I resorted to multiple pictures.”
Yet another participant, Keerthana Jayakumar, speaks out on why Art Smart is special. “It is not just a platform for painting but photography, mixed media and videography as well. I haven't come across such a platform before. It also provides wonderful exposure to the art community.”
A chat with the event partners reveals why Art Chennai is now inviting student participation. “There is not enough awareness or appreciation for art. No one takes in seriously and not enough people opt for it as a serious profession. With Art Smart, we hope to fix all that,” says Shikal of Percept DMark.
It is Sanjay Tulsyan, Convenor of Art Chennai 2012, who lays his finger on what makes this event different. “Primarily, this is not a competition,” he begins. “We are not looking to identify a first, second or third place. Rather, we are looking to spot talent and this is why we do not restrict ourselves to any one form.”
How has the response been and what can they say about the talent that they have witnessed? Where do the participants go from here?
“The cross-section of the age group is large with entries flowing in from as young as 15-year-olds right up to 21-year-olds.
Talent takes time to grow and this is an aspect we take into active consideration. The chosen entries will be exhibited without having any demarcations of best and second best.”
As the judges looked at one entry at a time and heard out one participant at a time, the atmosphere was one of a shared passion. Every individual there was there only out of a common love for art. Every student was there to showcase his/her best while also witnessing the works of their contemporaries.
Yashasvini is a student of IIT-M.