This summer, art for social change and community empowerment were the themes that propelled a unique collaboration to benefit the local communities in the majestic environs of Nanda Devi and highlight the folk arts of Uttarakhand.
From June 19-24, over twenty artists from the Uttarakhand Kalakar Samiti (Uttarakhand Folk Artists’ Organization) made their way to Lata village in the Niti Valley to attend a week-long camp, drawing inspiration from the region’s scenic beauty and people to paint 32 separate pieces reflecting their inner and outer artistic visions.
Organized by the Coleman Company and the Alliance for Development that has long assisted the Nanda Devi communities in struggles, the camp’s goal was to generate artwork to raise funds for 40 local unemployed youth from the Niti Valley to attend the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand. This skills training constitutes a major part of the Nanda Devi Campaign’s mission to build community-based ecotourism through local employment and capacity building.
This collaboration is not without its precedents. Cultural activists have been engaged in the Campaign for several years. Presently, other items offered on the campaign web site include Garhwali-language poetry books published by the Lok Shahitya Evam Sanskriti Vikas Trust and movie soundtracks for the hit Teri Saun and the teledrama Maletha Ki Kool, provided under the auspices of Angwal Music, a local music producer. While supporting the people of the Niti Valley, these partnerships also help raise the profile of indigenous Uttarakhandi culture that is witnessing a renaissance since the Himalayan region was granted statehood in 2000.
In association with the Uttarakhand Kalakar Samiti and Alliance for Development, the camp coordinator, painter and sculptor MS Rawat, will showcase the paintings in Delhi, however, you can also see them online at the campaign’s web site.
— By Rajiv Rawat, Campaign Press Release, July 6, 2004