Published Today by ART IS MOVING
Credit: Srikanth Kolari
What is Pondy Art?
Pondy ART is a not for profit organization in Pondicherry, South India that takes fine art photography directly to the public using public venues, like walls on the the main thoroughfares, as exhibition space. Art is for everyone and often unfortunately it becomes exclusive when it is kept in galleries or private spaces. We want to get it out there!
What’s the main goal of Pondy Art?
Our monthly exhibitions have an important goal besides just getting art out there. Each artist creates a show that “builds awareness of an issue challenging India today”. With themes including the environment, uniquely challenged communities, HIV, Mental illness as well as photo essays on specific regions and their residents, the exhibitions also educate. Currently we are doing monthly exhibitions by internationally recognized India based documentary photographers. We look forward to expanding the exhibitions to include other art mediums in time.
How can the rest of the world help? How can people get involved with this project?
It is easy to get involved. One click to follow our website at www.pondyart.org
is already showing support for our efforts to get art to the public.
But, there is another way too. The exhibitions are done “cheap and best” as they say in India, but they still cost approximately 300 USD a month for wall maintenance, printing, promotion and installation. Right now they are privately funded, but there is a struggle to find the funds each month. We will be launching a crowd raising campaign in the next two months to build the funds to run 12 exhibitions, but anyone can sponsor a show now just by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org
. With our current exhibition location, 10,000 people pass the show every weekend!!! So you really help get art out there!
Tell us a little about you, Kasha Vande.
I grew up in Upstate New York, as the daughter of an architect, and eventually trained as one myself. My family was very involved with arts in the area. Many family friends are artists and my parents were always supporting community arts organizations and taking us to galleries and shows. Eventually, I found myself in Pondicherry and fell in love with India where I opened a boutique and vegetarian restaurant run by local women, called Kasha Ki Aasha. Unable to resist the immense number of opportunities here, I suddenly found myself an entrepreneur and have built several businesses, all which involved some kind of design factor as well as sharing what I love about India, the latest being organising Yoga retreats for women. Through my businesses, I continuously meet artists, writers, and creators who I find incredibly inspiring and who enrich this small town life in India.
Pondy ART, came from a meeting with a documentary photographer who was searching for a way to get his stories on challenged communities out to the world. The project is something I do simply because I love being a part of the artistic process, although I don’t create myself, and because I feel everyone should get a chance to see and learn from art, not just a privileged portion of the community who feel comfortable walking into a gallery. Watching a small boy run across the street to stand, hands behind back, and study each photograph for minutes at a time is totally worth the effort!
What do you feel is the power of Art?
Art allows an individual to express his/her inner thoughts, impressions and emotions in such limitless ways, where words can prove restrictive. Art also evokes reactions from a viewer, whether positive or negative, interpretative or imaginative and gives the viewer the opportunity to think in a different way without the restrictions of verbal confrontation/communication with another who may understand things differently. It opens understanding, because in fact Art cannot be right or wrong. It just is what it is for each of us and can teach us that in fact many things are that way.
Can Art evoke action?
I believe when art is used to educate as in our Pondy ART exhibitions, yes. While the public is looking at the images they are becoming aware of an issue that they may not have known about or generally ignored. Seeing these often striking images in front of them in this way can bring a realization that if they make even a small effort – maybe recycle, or provide a job, or accept a member of a challenged society in their social network, they could make a difference. And every action helps.
How do you feel art can make a positive impact in a community?
Art evokes discussion between people who may not have interacted before. Educational Art can bring about positive change as it builds awareness. And Art in the public space builds community pride as it brings more people together to enjoy something unique and special in their own environment.
What does art mean to you?
Freedom of expression. Art gives the opportunity to capture or consider a moment or a thought with one’s own personal interpretation which, in fact, cannot in reality be judged or affected by another because it IS so completely personal. It may be the only true form of freedom we have!
Art is Moving Interview 2013
Based in Pondicherry, India since 2001