Art Education In India
Author: Javed Mulani
Art is everywhere in our life, so how do we interact with so much art in day to day life and with what awareness and responsibility? Do we ever spare a moment and sensitize ourselves to create a distinction about the way we interpret art around us? The responsibility of serious art education is being imparted by many reputed art institutes of India and through other channels of learning art on local level. My question is, ‘Does it suffice the need for art education’? There are some serious areas of concern when it comes to art education. We need to focus on how much information or practice we have before we enrol to any visual art institute. I will be tapping on these areas in my topic of art education in India.
Everything starts with a basic training and that links us to our schooling. We all have an art period since Kindergarten. Unfortunately, the majority of them, which includes students, teachers and administration, consider it as a fun period or a free period or a filler. Art period never got the same space as other subjects like Science, Language and Maths. It’s normal practice to overlap an art period with some other seemingly more serious and important subjects. This is where we start demoralising the value of art education that it’s unimportant. Art teachers in school are not just hired with the responsibility of imparting art education but they are made to work like an art labour who fulfils the command of creating posters, decorating walls, making decorative art pieces, beautifying display boards which over burden art teachers with unwanted duties and also make them feel degraded. My question to this type of system in function is ‘How will a student feel inspired to take art as a serious career option when they see their art teachers struggling with no future as artists themselves? It’s very important that at school level an art teacher should be hired with due respect and allow them to be a practicing Artist simultaneously which will create awareness among the population about art and its importance in the structure of society formation.
I would also like to highlight exactly how art education should be considered. At present what we practice in school is influenced by western art education patterns. They are being taught about famous western artists and western art styles. According to me there is a big grey area in the way we have structured our art syllabus at school level. This is why I questioned in the beginning how aware we are before we actually take visual art education to a higher level. India is still extremely rich in art culture. India has 28 States and each State carries some individuality with respect to art. I am very sure that except for a few Indian art styles we are ignorant about the majority of art practices that have existed or are currently existing in India. How about educating and training these traditional art styles and practices where they not only learn about art but also get more informed about their existence? By the time they complete their higher secondary education they would know a lot about the space they belong to and not just about art from some foreign land. This will make them more informative, aware and responsible to carry forward the beauty which is very strong in Indian Visual art.
In the era of globalisation so many things are getting merged and come to us as one universal form of understanding. Same goes for art education, with context to Indian art education as it is majorly influenced by European and Western art education patterns. Not denying the fact that so many things churned up with art in that part of the world but what makes it compulsory for us to follow them? Art is universal, so learning about European/ Western art is must but I wonder about the ratio in which we consume them. Like the way we learn about Western art styles and artists, how many art institutes around the world teach Indian art in their curriculum? So it needs to be balanced when it comes to educating ourselves. When we get aware of our surroundings, our existence, social structure, political influences, our lifestyles then the artwork we produce will be more authentic. It will reflect our inward journey to the art world around where we don’t please the art market dictated by the West and Europe.
To conclude I would like to emphasise upon the purpose of art education to be taken seriously right from the beginning. It’s not about creating artists at the end of the day but developing a vision for aesthetics where the population is able to extract beauty in their way of living life. To see beauty in space is a gift to us and art education helps in developing that personality. The change we want to see in the future of art does not start with a bachelor’s degree but how we all associate in living artistically. As I began with “Art is everywhere” it’s important to believe that “Art is for everyone”.