My First Wall Art Project – Government school

Photo Credits :

Poornima Sukumar

Writer :

Shanthi Munisamy

23rd November, 2018

In early 2017, I befriended Poornima via Facebook and got to know about the Aravani Art Project. Soon after, she asked me to accompany her for a small painting activity in a government school in Bangalore.

I was very skeptical but also curious to know more about the opportunity and to work for Aravani Art Project.

Apart from the painting, I was going to enter a school after over two decades and that made me nervous!

Prior to the painting day, Poornima called me to confirm whether I would join her or not.

Anxious, I agreed and met at her residence in Indiranagar, Bangalore.

It was my first, entering the space where she lived which resonated with her personality and where the Aravani Art Project discussions happened! I was excited.

We had a brief meeting discussing logistics and process of the project after which we took some paints, few brushes and left on Poornima’s bike to the school.

While riding, Poornima asked me what was going on in my head and if I was nervous! I said "Yes. I am nervous and happy but more worried because I am scared to face the school children"

Why?" she asked surprised.

"Aren’t they the most honest transparent critics we come across? If one kid finds out that I am a Transgender woman then the whole school will come to know about it in seconds and I will be the joke of the day."

"I will stand there humiliated and unanswerable to the school children… Stop the bike!" I demanded. "Stop, so I can go back and not face any humiliation by children and not let my worst nightmare come to life! Stop!" I demanded again.

We pulled the bike towards the corner of the road. Poornima turned and assured me “Nothing will happen. Trust me and trust this process”

I agreed, anxious and hoping for the best, while the bike rode into a beautiful town along a hillside.

From far, the only visible thing was the small government school surrounded by trees, hills and a beautiful village across with tiny houses scattered around Kanakpura road Bengaluru. This was enough to calm my soul and I began seeing the light.

We were greeted in the school by Mythili, the project coordinator who directed us to meet the headmaster of the school!

Every step into the school was a rush of memories of my school days while the anxiousness lay aside.

While I was reminiscing on old memories, we arrived at the wall space we were commissioned to paint.

I saw my first canvas lay in front of me, and the process had just begun to get exciting.

Poornima guided me to hold the brush in my hand and thereon…

I had cast my first brush stroke on to the wall and along with the stroke was a whole gush of emotions that flowed!

For the next 30 minutes, I observed Poornima every step of the way to see her process of painting and I heard “Ma’am!”

We turned and noticed a bunch of curious students who were eager to paint! On our response, they walked towards us as I looked on nervously!

One of them turned to me and asked “Ma-am could you teach me how to paint here?”

  • I was stunned. All my anxiety in the past hour boiled down to that interaction!

  • I was filled to the brim of my heart with joy! A child called me madam!

  • I happily agreed to show her of he little I had just learnt and painted my day away with many many more students!

While we wrapped up Poornima turned and asked me “How do you feel now?” Though my smile was giving her all the answers, I said “This is better than standing in the traffic signal!”.

I had managed to contribute in turning a bare lifeless wall into a colourful dreamy space for reading!

What a memorable day it was, one that will always be close to my heart! It marked the beginning of my journey of loving myself and into the Aravani art Project!

‘Passion that was hidden inside me had begun to bloom from there on’

There is always so much said about what is right or enough information to be shared with children. My opinion would be that it is very important to be sensitized or gain awareness at a very young age. We must help them grow and acknowledge all the diversity that surrounds us!

Pertaining to transgender people, we must break the fear that the society enforces on young minds and instil positive feelings of acceptance, love and hope!

I am Shanthi Muniswamy, a trans artist, poet and blogger. As the documentarian at The Aravani Art Project, I bring stories to you from our projects. Especially, stories that move my heart and will resonate with me forever. I am sharing these experiences, with a hope to build acceptance and love towards my community.