Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013

THE FIGHT FOR ARTISTS

Story: Richee Kamal
Image manipulation: E R Ronny
Model: Maleena Gomez

Photo: Darshan Chakma

Photo: Darshan Chakma

The civilized world from its baby steps had reverence for art. For the longest time, symbols and drawings were the only means of communication and documentation. Cave paintings prove that even ancient cavemen would draw to make sense of their lives, leaving traces long after they’re gone. Now, that our civilization is at its creative peak, a school of thought feels our country is lagging behind in a primitive bubble of progress. Art is no longer given its due respect and love. Art students often complain when they tell others that they are studying art, they are looked down upon. “Why on earth are you majoring on art? What possible career can you get out of it?”

When children explain with wide-eyed excitement that they want to become painters and artists, they are frowned upon and forced into believing art doesn’t buy bread for the family. The stark partiality can be seen when in art classes most school curriculums just tell students to draw houses and apples as they please, and art period is declared a free period mostly. This inevitably creates an impression on the growing children that art is useless. It should be ignored, scoffed at, and never chosen as a career. Even if some children were interested in art strongly enough to have made talented artists one day, they leave off their pursuit due to mass programming. Art should be taught from kindergarten level in a proper way, delving children into its rich history and indispensable uses; the proper techniques of sketching and colouring taught.

Everything we see is art. An automobile is a product of art; buildings that benchmark the essence of an era, also art. Even basic things like clothes we wear, food we eat – all of it is art. Yet artists, who want to make a sincere career out of it simply because they love art, are facing extreme difficulties. Art institutions have become too commercial; they’ve killed the art and are just institutions. There are only a few good institutions in Dhaka, and hence are monopolies. Talented artists who don’t have sufficient funds and connections are not getting chances. The scenario propagates with art galleries. Art students suffer from a feeling of uselessness, as they feel they would never get an opportunity due to the competition.

Additionally, the number of good teachers in universities is limited. There are only two well-known teachers in the entire city who teach art to A’ levels students. Schools don’t offer art because resources and teachers are hard to find and larger education bodies, subsequently don’t treat art as a subject.

Art is a vessel that holds beauty in a timeless fashion for all past and future generations to behold and admire. It helps us define ourselves not only as an individual but also as a generation. The ability to create art should be preserved by prevailing systems. Our present education system and social custom should recognize its importance and reform itself before it’s too late and our country becomes an insipid environment that only chases the commercially profitable with no respect towards performance and creativity. If not now, then when?