Sarmaya is collaborating with Saturday Art Class to take our collection into BMC classrooms across Mumbai. Saturday Art Class (SArC) is an organisation that provides essential life skills and social and emotional learning through art. We have worked with them to build lesson plans for a period of a month that encourage children to build a sense of self-worth, confidence, identity and empathy. The lessons and activities that Sarmaya and Saturday Art Class have developed will reach 1000 children in 25 BMC classrooms across Mumbai.
To begin with, our intervention focused on the genres of Indian folk art and photography. Our first session was part of the training program conducted by SArC for their coaches. We introduced them to Sarmaya, our collection and the two themes they would explore in their own classrooms during January and February 2020: painted photographs and Gond. The coaches painted their own self-portraits to develop ideas of how a participant could envision themselves through this exercise, in the present and the future.
We began our children's workshops on 25 January at a classroom filled with young learners. Introducing our participants to the 19th-century art of painted photography, our Archive Director Avehi Menon explained how royals and noblemen in India used this technique to fashion aspirational identities for themselves. The facilitators at SArC then gave the children black-and-white photos of themselves, and asked them to express an ambition for who they want to be when they grow up. They could paint the accessories of a profession or a quality they aspired too. By the end of the session, the children had drawn whole worlds around themselves, articulating professional ambitions (many wanted to be cricketers, not surprisingly!) as well as stating personal goals like wanting to be more confident.