Friday 27 November 2020

Awareness About The Art of Odisha

 Last year, OdiArt Museum of Odisha, India, had invited me as a judge of the fashion-cum-personality contest- Ms. Chilika and Mr. Chilika, held during the Shelduck Festival 2019. 

There were some Q&A rounds where the judges asked questions and the participants had to answer. 
The age of all the participants was less than 30 years.

I asked some questions, one of which was- "Name at least one art or handicraft of Odisha."

I was surprised to find that my question could not be answered by the contestant to whom it was directed. I tried giving hints, but still the young participant, who had completed high school, could not answer.

I was confident that I would get the answer - "Pattachitra" as everyone knows about this ancient art of Odisha.
Pattachitra by- Artist Saudamini Swain, Odisha, India

Many questions came to my mind-

Why do our youngsters not know the name of our local handicrafts?

Is it because this is not taught in the school text-books? 

Or are they not interested to learn or know? 

Or they don't know as their parents or elders never told them about those? 

Would they have bothered to know the names if it was in their school or college syllabus and they would have to read to appear for their exams?

Many can recognize the art works of western artists and know a couple of their names- both art and artists, but when it comes to recognizing our own local arts or crafts and artists and artisans, we are ignorant. 

When we can't name our art, leave alone the name of the artist...

Just because one contestant could not answer my question about art does not mean that the others did not know.

The contestants were aware about many facts about Odisha and India as was evident from their well-informed answers to the questions asked by other judges.

One of them even answered that the Chilika Lake is Asia's largest brackish salt-water lake. 
The ocean of knowledge is vast and deep and no single person can claim to know all the answers.

As the venue was a wonderful museum that celebrates art and culture, and also as the participants were mostly students who had passed high school or college and also had stayed in the museum premises, I assumed that they would have taken a good tour of the museum and must have seen the wonderful art exhibits. 

Seeing an art is one thing, experiencing it is another, and standing up to own it and defend it as its brand ambassador is quite another.

How can people who do not even know the name of the art and who cannot even identify the type of art expect to be aware that the art is being appropriated or misrepresented? 

Unfortunately, the name Pattachitra, which is the traditional art of Odisha is being used by others owing to the ignorance of those who don't know and the inaction by those who know.

"Orissa Pattachitra" has earned the GI Tag in 2008.

Why don't other states use their own local names to refer to their local art? 

Why borrow other's popular term and brand name and use it claiming it as owner?

This Twitter thread has more information-

Unless there is interest, information and awareness, there cannot be any action and implementation.

Misinformation will continue as is the case now.

Let us all be "vocal for local". 

We can do this when we are aware about our local art and other unique products and services

Do you know the name of at least one local art of your state? Do share in the comments below. 

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