Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lack of a market for Art in the State, coupled with absence of any government-funded exhibitions and fairs has reduced Artist's futures in Odisha

The brush and canvas, the stone and chisel are no more in Artist's hand in contemporary Odisha. The dream of becoming an artist has been shattered by poverty. And now who are completed their study in Art, those roam the lanes and by-lanes of cities in search of work in Odisha.Many of Artists has been sited on a hunger strike demanding creation of posts of art teacher in schools so that job avenues for them get a little wider. But they seem to have failed to hold the State Government's attention on their problems. And because of the almost non-existent scope of employment for visual art students, most do not mind taking refuge in painting footpath banners and commercial posters for a living.

"My hands have begun to shiver and I fear I might never be able to hold a brush again to give shape and color to my flights of fancy," said Prajesh Mohapatra, one of the hundreds visual art students for whom their art degree is just another paper of little relevance today.The abolition of posts of drawing teacher in schools has taken a heavy toll on their careers, says Prajesh. These jobs were the only lucrative ones sought after by visual art students. Further, lack of a market for Art in the State, coupled with absence of any government-funded exhibitions and fairs has reduced their futures to the black and white of poverty and despair.

"How can we ever give form to our imagination and creativity when we ourselves are struggling to exist?", said Bijay Nayak, an artist who has won accolades for his paintings outside the State, but has ironically failed to impress a color blind State Government.Many such disgruntled young artists feel there was no need to open a second Art college when most of the pass-outs from the 50-year-old Khallikote Arts College are still to find a footing in the employment scenario. The second government art college, the B.K. College of Art and Crafts, was opened in 1983-84, and now there is a Culture University in state which has not a proper infrastructure and administrator.

The pitiable state of young artists in the State also emanates from gross negligence of exposure of students to national art camps, competitions and exhibitions so as to give them a chance to prove their mettle on tougher ground."Study tours to different states should be organized at regular interval, there must be seminar and discussions on art and cultural heritage of the state. But there is neither any fund nor any initiative to cater to the needs of the course and students", says an art teacher of B.K.College of Art and Crafts.

Having a faith in the government machinery and hope of any official help in this Government, the art students are waiting for something fruitful, or perhaps maybe a kind, art-loving public may lend them the required support to make the State Government bring back some of the lost color into their dreams.