She is an artist and philanthropist. She is passionate and compassionate. She is an achiever and believer. She is a part of the crowd, yet stands apart. Instances of people contributing to their communities or of people pursuing their deepest passions are not rare. Eighteen-year-old Anjali Chandrashekar is a rare instance of weaving the two together. Using her love for art, she is doing her bit to make the world a better place.
At four, she began painting in real earnest and, at 10, she was teaching underprivileged children at the Integrated Multipurpose Recreation and Hobby Centre (IMRHC) in Bangalore. “I started painting when I was four. I don’t really remember how I picked it up. At 10, I started participating in several contests at national and international levels,” says Anjali, “When I was 12, my poster on disaster management — on earthquakes and how to reduce their occurrences —was picked by the United Nations Office For Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in Japan. Four thousand copies were sold. It was absolutely overwhelming.”
This year, during a vacation to Chennai from Brooklyn — where she is currently pursuing her Industrial Design at Pratt Institute — she wanted to make the most of her time here. That’s when her extraordinary initiative, ‘Picture It’, began. “I’ve always felt strongly about oncology because I’ve known a lot of people who have lost their loved ones to cancer,” Anjali says. “So this time, when I was in India, I worked out an interesting project called ‘Picture It’. The main idea was to establish a library for children at the Adyar Cancer Institute. Most of the children here have little or no educational background. So I went about collecting books that have powerful imagery and would make their learning process easier. The number of books I collected is way more than I had ever imagined.”
Though the library is still in-the-making, Anjali handed over the books to Dr. V. Shanta, Chairperson, Adyar Cancer Institute, on August 12 (International Youth Day).
Over the years, she has been actively involved with various campaigns revolving around social themes. Her main areas of interest, however, have always been humanitarian, environmental and health issues. That apart, she has worked for endangered species, global warming, WWF, UNICEF, FAQ, UNEP and UNESCO on different occasions. “In 2008, my poster on diabetes raised $ 5000 for the International Diabetes Federation,” she says.
“I was also the youngest contributor.” She was also the youngest Asian to represent the British Council at the Global Youth Summit in Davos, Switzerland. “It was a very enriching experience. It was an opportunity to strengthen my fund raising and campaigning skills. Honestly, it enhanced my confidence to make something like ‘Picture It’ happen.”
“I feel that art as a medium is so powerful that it breaks all barriers. People from anywhere and of any background can connect to it. I want to continue making a difference through my passion. At the end of the day, I have the satisfaction of not only pursuing my love for art but also serving the world around me in my own way.”