New Art Brings Hope
Little by little, artwork started to appear on the front doors of Freeset’s Gateway building in Kolkata courtesy of two traveling artists, their three children and anyone who accepted the family’s invitation to join them. The image of a mother swallow with her chick, conveys the idea of protection in an area filled with so much hardship and brokenness. “We specifically chose the swallow bird because they are always in a community, much like the women being together. When they fly long distances, they fly together. When the wind goes against them, they need to hold on together like a chain to get through,” shared the artisans. They wanted the women to see that they can find protection, a home with freedom at Freeset, even at the “gateway” of one of Asia’s largest red-light districts.
From the Gateway building, they took their art into Sonagacchi and the walls of Tamar’s community center. Inside, the community center now features a swallow pulling a sari across the walls as a representation of beauty, respect, and protection. Women coming into the community center to visit, actively participated in painting the sari with colorful houses, mountains, and flower pots. They were able to experience the beauty of painting and the art of transformation behind it.
The artists are part of group called “Zämespiel” who travel the world using their art to tell stories from different walks of life. They work together with their surrounding community to paint a more vibrant picture than they could alone. Their desire in Sonagacchi is to see the artwork they have created with the community become a sign of hope in a place where hope for a different life is often difficult to see.
During their three months in Kolkata, the family would create art on the streets with the locals using chalk, stones, water - whatever they could find - to show that art can be made out of anything. In the past, they have traveled to Hong Kong, Pakistan, and different parts of Europe working with several organizations to inspire and change communities through the power of art.
The artists hope to return to teach art to children in Sonagacchi and to continue bringing art to the broken places surrounding Freeset. To learn more about the traveling artists and their past projects, visit Zämespiel.