Aravani Art Project aims to create a collective space for people from the transgender community by engaging them into public art and other interventions. We intend to initiate supporting the people from the community to collaborate with artists, photographers, film makers and fellow society to paint large wall-murals and engage them in various forms of art to reclaim public spaces for conversations, voicing issues and to commence social participation.
Our mission is to engage the community in a creative way and help society see the people from the transgender community in a new light.
The term 'Aravani' means a person who worships Lord Aravan, the patron God of the transgenders. This name is used as a non-patronising name for the community
We want to create a safe space for alternate voices.
We hope to touch the lives of the people from the transgender community in different parts of the world to create a sense of well being through art rooted activities. We also want to recognise some of their core strengths in the arts and find an alternative source of income through freelance projects, develop organizational skills and advocate social change by raising community awareness in the public sector.
We intend to document the lives of people from the community, dive deep into their circle of culture and traditional practices.
Aravani Art Project was founded by Poornima Sukumar, in January 2016. After an experience of being in the field of Art education for 5 and a half years, Poornima undertook a career of a freelancer and a vivid traveller in 2012. In the numerous travels that she undertook, she had the privilege of working with social causes, human welfare- mainly with children, women and people from the transgender community.
And it is while undertaking one such project that she realized that she could use art to engage with different communities and address various social issues that continue to plague the society. Lack of awareness and sensitivity to the problems faced by the community, general apathy, stereotypes and stigmas associated with them have resulted in limited interactions between them and the other communities making their integration into the mainstream society a major challenge.
She was involved in a documentary film with a film-maker from London for about 3 years which trailed the people from the transgender community. This gave her a first hand experience in interacting with the people from the community and understanding them as individuals. When the documentary was coming to an end, she had an urge to keep the association with them going. Art being such an important part of her life she decided to address their social situation by painting walls with them. A series of discussions with the people from the community and support from friends led to the founding of this project.