Art students lost in no-man’s land

For far too long, formal art education has been regulated by bodies that have no connection with it, say artists.

Published: 04th March 2017 04:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th March 2017 04:47 AM   |  A+A-

(L-R) R B Bhaskaran, M J Kamalakshmi, Prof R Nandakumar and artist Prabhakar Kolte at the National Seminar  Nagaraja Gadekal

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Can art education in fields like painting, sculpting and design be under bodies such as the All India Council for Technical Education or the University Grants Commission?

A number of senior artists from across the country attending the ‘National Seminar on Art Education’ at Chitra Kala Parishat feel that it is time things changed.  

They have therefore proposed forming an apex body called the ‘Council for Art and Design Education’ to oversee and monitor art education instead of technical bodies or organizations that monitor regular courses. This body will be similar with the the Bar Council of India or The Council for Architecture.

Ambigious and Abrupt Guides

“So far art education is in ‘no-man’s land’ and falls under the ambit of plain educational institutions, cultural institutions and even industrial bodies in various states.

We are now proposing a body for and by artists that will be passed by an act of Parliament that formulates new education policy to support, monitor and guide art education in the country,” says R B Bhaskaran, former principal of the Government Fine Arts College, Chennai. 

Even in the AICTE, artists are only called while formulating certain policies “once in a while” and that there was no permanent arrangement to look after arts education.  To give an example, the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat (KCP) is under the State Department of Technical Education and is an autonomous college affiliated to Bangalore University.

“Even in Bangalore University, it is only recently that we got a representation in its academic council in the form of someone from the artist community,”says M J Kamalakshmi, general secretary, KCP.

Not a Monolith

Even an institution such as Lalit Kala Akademi only recognizes works of artists and attempts to promote their arts. It does not really monitor art education says Siddhartha Ghosh, secretary incharge of the body.  “Art is a discipline that is different from technical courses. There are thousands of arts colleges - private, government - however there is no proper syllabus. All these shortcomings affect students who pass out from art institutions and will directly affect their careers,” he says. A re-look on all such aspects is therefore a necessity, adds Ghosh.

While a body catering specifically to art education is necessary, Ghosh cautioned that it should not be “monolithic” and should be a body that merely nudges institutions and the art discipline in the right education rather than totally control its functioning.

Art in India is considered only as a “craft and hobby” according to Prabhakar Kolte, artist and former faculty at the Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai. Such a perception of the public can also be changed with the yet-to-be formed council.

“In countries such as Europe, the common people are aware of art and appreciate its significance. This awareness could be part of the council’s work,” he says. With many art institutions depending on the government for their funds, he says that the council can also help with this. 

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