Meet Inspired by his mentors in art school, Rama Suresh helps many special children discover the world of colours
The fish in Rama Suresh's innovative stone aquarium seem at peace with their surroundings, safe under the leaves of potted plants, and with stone and bronze sculptures around. This is what greets you at the entrance of a wooden cottage which is Suresh's studio, Art Expressions.
Inside, an entire room of sculptures, paintings and abstract art project a plethora of colours. Right past the Feng Shui Phoenix and Suresh's personal workspace, equipped with easel, paints and a desktop, is a small but cosy room.
“These are works by different artists across the country. Whenever I go somewhere, I make it a point to buy something I like. Slowly, the collection grew. I have a lot more bronze sculptures but since this studio was broken into once, I don't keep them here anymore,” says Suresh.
Suresh loves teaching. When he started in a 10x10 room, there were just four students. He now has about 50 students, 20 of whom are differently-abled and have a flair for the arts. “Sunder of Freedom Trust and I have been working together for over eight years with special children,” he says.
The classes are conducted over the weekends, in the backyard, home to potted plants and an old tree.
This allows the students to soak in the fresh air and take in the beauty of Nature. Even the brick walls, painted light caramel, have an embossed, Iranian-style feel to them.
“I started this studio in 2002 with great difficulty. Full-time artists have a tough time finding places to rent, because the rates are too high. With this studio, I wanted to inspire creativity. I started my classes, and I ensure they are fun sessions. I'm not my students' teacher, but their friend,” says Suresh.
Suresh says it isn't difficult to teach the differently-abled because they are focussed and motivated, and paint vividly. Most importantly, no one is treated differently. “Everyone comes to the same class and is taught the same way,” he says.
Three of his special students have won Outstanding Creative Awards from the Central Government, while a couple of others have won the State Young Achiever Awards. “The kids keep telling me they'll become artists someday. I guide them through their education, help them get a seat in college and make sure I'm there to watch them realise their dreams,” says Suresh.
Helping him take the classes are two other artists. “When I did my graduation in fine arts, my mentors told me that one can survive just on art, but only if he spread his knowledge,” he recalls. That's what he's doing, teaching part-time in colleges and institutes.
“My paintings and my students are my life,” smiles Suresh.