Why are we taught to paint the building in a particular shade of blue or green? Or, can’t the cat be drawn to look a little different from the usual? These were the questions that made Sara Vetteth, who specialises in usability, information architecture and visual design, come up with books that explained Indian art and work by Indian artists, to children.
As a digital interface expert, Sara Vetteth’s third book which will soon hit the stands, focusses on art for children, and features works of artist K G Subramanyan.
Vetteth‘s earlier books — Art For Kids in association with the Foundation of Indian Contemporary Art, explained the works by living legends like artists Ram Kumar and A Ramachandran.
“Having lived abroad, I have seen that the involvement of kids in arts there is far deeper than in India. In India, even if art is included in the curriculum, it doesn’t give them much insight into the country’s art legacy. They perhaps learn a lot about foreign artists. There is little knowledge about Indian artists,” says Vetteth, who did masters in Design and Technology from Parson’s school of Design, New York and taught graduate courses there. She was also invited as an artist in residence at the Bauhaus school near Berlin.
She also says that she has noticed that the way art is being taught in India gives little room for creativity for children. “They are told leaves have to be of a particular shape and green in colour. They are made to strictly follow the norms of shape, size and colour,” she says.
In 2011, Vetteth’s first two books on Indian arts were released. “I worked with the artists closely and they were more than happy to be part of the venture. Their only condition was that the quality of the reproduction of their works should be good,” she says.
She adds that, however, she didn’t want to dumb down art, just because it was for children. “The idea was to put art and artists in front of them. But, it was heartening to know that children understand and appreciate art, when given a chance to interpret it their own way,” says Vetteth.
She chose living legends for the project, for the inspiration they offered as artists. “I wanted to avoid being pedantic, most importantly. The artists were great in their field of work and exuded a motivational presence in terms of their personality, too,” she adds.
While working on the books, Vetteth experienced the challenge of filtering paintings. “The paintings don’t always have to be pretty. When talking about an artist, you have to present their works as they are. Children can deal with strong representations of artworks, too. For the books Ram Kumar’s Landscapes and Ramachandran’s Nature Paintings, the constant character of the artists’ painting had to be illustrated. The same goes for K G Subramanyan’s work, that is characterised by grids,” she says.
(Sara Vetteh’s books are priced at Rs 350 and available online)