Art is a powerful medium which holds the potential to bring about changes in society and sometimes even a complete revolution. One of the most significant challenges today is that we often feel untouched by the problems that surround us. However, the creative zeal of an artist and their powerful artworks have the capacity to not only depict essential social or environmental problems but also start a much-needed conversation around the issue.
Propelled by the power of social media, art in today’s world has transformed its purpose of mere visual appeal to become a tool used by artists to stir up conversations. The Logical Indian spoke to six Indian artists who have been using their respective art forms as a tool for raising awareness on a myriad of issues ranging from female empowerment to nature conservation.
Rohan Chakravarty aka Green Humor
As the topic of environmental conservation has come to the fore, Delhi based cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty has been creating ripples by his comic illustrations. While the comics are witty for the most part, more often than not, there are underlying messages. Talking to The Logical Indian, Rohan said that as the name suggests, Green Humor highlights issues related to everything green.
Using fun illustrations, Rohan talks about nature conservation, loss of green cover, global warming and even seeks to educate his followers about different species of animals and natural occurrences. Recently, Rohan teamed up with Wildlife Trust of India’s Gaj Yatra campaign where he created a colouring-cum-comic book to raise awareness on elephant conservation.
Renowned sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik from Orissa does not need any introduction, as over 18 years, the Padma Shri awardee has brought both social and environmental issues to the limelight using his medium, sand sculpting. From creating sculptures on global warming to spreading messages on world peace and even the problem of plastic pollution, there are no issues that Pattnaik has not taken into notice.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Sudarsan said, “As public artists, we have a certain degree of responsibility. I wanted to go beyond just creating art and also put some message across that would resonate with everyone who views my art.” In this regard, Sudarsan recalls that his 2015 sand sculpture of “Humanity washed ashore” had gained immense popularity. He says that most of the sculptures that he creates today have some social or environmental messages behind it.
Rachita Taneja aka Sanitary Panels
A for Art and A for Activism, for comic artist Rachita Taneja, both these words are synonymous with each other. Started in 2014, Rachita’s page Sanitary panels has grown organically over the past four years. With simple stick figures, Rachita whips up power comics which tackles issues of feminism, politics and current affairs. She addresses burning topics like gender inequality, mental health, female empowerment and politics among others.
I'm in the US right now and reading and hearing about all the terrible things happening to families seeking asylum….
Mumbai-based photographer Ganesh Vanare’s picture perhaps accurately depicted the glaring problem of plastic pollution in the water bodies. The picture, taken by Ganesh at one of Mumbai’s beaches shows his friend who is also a model standing in a pile of plastic. The photo is a homage to the #FollowMeTo series on Instagram first made famous by Moscow-based couple Murad Osmann and Natalia Zakharova where they clicked pictures hand in hand in beautiful picturesque locations around the world.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Ganesh said that they had gone to the beach for a photo shoot, however, the plastic on the beach made them change their mind. The resultant pictures took social media by a storm.
Using Bollywood stereotypes and putting a hard-hitting twist on some of the famous dialogues, this Mumbai-based street artist has been urging women to speak up about the rampant problem of sexual harassment. Talking to The Logical Indian, Jheel said that she wanted her ‘Breaking The Silence’ project to be the voice for all the women who have experienced sexual harassment or eve teasing in some form or the other.
While she is a student of art, Jheel’s artworks were mostly private and were confined to a canvas before in 2012, she decided to take it to the streets. With nine artworks in some of the busiest streets of Mumbai, Jheel has most definitely been using art in order to raise awareness on issues that people generally refrain from talking about.
Bengalureans saw potholes, but artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy saw the gaping hole in the road as an opportunity to create art. He shot to fame in 2015 after Baadal installed a temporary life-sized crocodile on a pothole in Bengaluru.
Talking to The Logical Indian, the ‘pothole artist’ said, “I wanted to bring the problem of potholes in front of the authorities.” Since then, Baadal has created many such artworks which sheds light on not only civic problems but also social issues. Over the years, he used his creativity to showcase some important incidents and problems which have been plaguing the society today.
With his artwork, Baadal continues to create thought-provoking, yet artistic pieces which keep authorities on their toes.
The Logical Indian take
Art is omnipresent, and taking that thought further, these artists and many more like them have been compelling people to engage in dialogues and think on issues which are plaguing the society. The Logical Indian appreciates the artist’s efforts who have been acting as catalysts of change in India and elsewhere.