Crisis? Fear not, when art dons the cape!

The second wave, they call it. The third wave is on its way, they say. The only thing to cheer about is that humanity has risen collectively to help heal the world.

Published: 10th July 2021 06:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th July 2021 06:23 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The cool sea breeze on our faces. Feet deeply buried in the sand. What a momentary feeling of power to watch those ferocious ocean waves tame themselves at our feet. Now, powerless we stand, fighting for our survival against another giant wave. The second wave, they call it. The third wave is on its way, they say. The only thing to cheer about is that humanity has risen collectively to help heal the world.

One is bombarded with images of good Samaritans donating earned, begged, borrowed or stolen funds to our elected/ unelected representatives. For those unable to squeeze into mainstream news, hope lies in the all-encompassing Kingdom Social Media. Here, the possibilities are limitless. Clothes, a single blanket, pet food, services you do/don’t do but can claim credit for unquestionably, why...even a glass of drinking water that quenches a thirsty bystander can all be recorded for posterity.

Posting it with the right caption can turn you into the nation’s next yetundiscovered saviour, or so you believe. Old-timers may bemoan the loss of an era where charity went about unannounced. For their consolation, there still exist humanitarians who do it quietly and with the dignity it deserves. One noble initiative that has long been doing the rounds and tends to pick up momentum in a calamity, is the concept of selling art to raise funds. Art has always come to the rescue in times of crisis or otherwise.

From cyclones and floods, hunger and drought, social and environmental issues, art has always stepped in and artists have graciously been generous in donating their creations. This seemingly never-ending pandemic, which has pushed humanity to the brink, has affected the artist community too, with regard to sources of income. With art galleries shut and all shows postponed, it has been uncertain, trying times for the art world. Paints, canvases and all other art material do not grow off trees, you see.

As many of us artists struggle to stay afloat, conscience-stricken do-gooders, yearning to contribute to pandemic relief work, knock on our doors constantly, flooding us with requests to donate our artwork, so they can ease their philanthropic urges. The question to be pondered here is why is art always the first go-to solution to mobilise funds, even if the cause is just to fix the leak in your kitchen? It is highly unlikely that any jeweller or consumer durables store owner has ever met with similar requests.

“Could you give us a few refrigerators or diamonds to raise funds?” Cash donations are the need of the hour. But, does art have to be perpetually used as a means for this, by undervaluing it and without any compensation to the artist? A work of art is not merely a decorative item. It is an outcome of hundreds of hours of hardwork, of thinking beyond known boundaries, days of frustration and jubilation, moments of conflicts within. It is an artist’s journey. A fragment of our life. Acknowledgement of that worth is paramount. Spare us the garage sales.

Jitha Karthikeyan


(Jitha Karthikeyan is an artist and curator, passionate about making art accessible to the larger public)


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