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Poornima Sukumar

Director

Poornima Sukumar is a muralist, community artist, and illustrator. She uses wall painting as community engagement. For the past few years she has been using her public art projects to enable youth voices, to engage youth in peacemaking and to create awareness around social issues. She feels privileged to have worked on a variety of social causes and human welfare issues alongside government bodies, schools, corporates, restaurants, artist’s residencies and more.

Her recent projects include painting a library with rag-pickers children, a wall on the streets of Mumbai’s Red Light district with the daughters of sex-workers, she visited Nepal where she painted a wall with the children orphaned by the 2015 Earthquake, and she continues to create many small-scale projects in schools and juvenile facilities for at-risk young boys and girls throughout Bangalore.

Speaking is an important part of raising awareness and Poornima is a TEDx speaker who, alongside Shanthi Sonu, delivers awareness and sensitisation seminars to companies throughout India. Poornima has spoken at the LITMUS festival, which is an initiative of FYI (For Young India), aiming to create meaningful experiences for young Indians by combining arts, literature, and opportunities of Public interventions in communities. In July 2016, Poornima was invited to present the Aravani Art Project at the Global Youth Forum and she was hosted by the World Bank as a panellist for the LGBTQIA+ discussion in Washington DC.

Sadhna Prasad

Art Director

Sadhna is an artist by heart and an illustrator by profession; Sadhna has been working on beautiful projects that carry her unique style and confident approach to colour. Her themes usually concern parallel alternate worlds, deconstructing stereotypes and dualites.

Her graphic style is directed by a courageous use of colour that has become iconic of the Aravani Art Project’s wall paintings. The collective works in a long-term collaborative way with each transgender community they meet. Together they decide upon colours, patterns, themes, concepts and message. Sadhna takes these conversations, suggestions and inspirations and translates them into a wall painting that everyone and anyone can come and paint.

Her work has been presented at various art shows in London, UK and Brooklyn, New York. She has showcased her work at the Mahua Art Gallery in Bangalore, as a proud (and only) recipient of the HK Kejriwal Young Artist Award. Sadhna received her artistic education at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India before finding her voice at the Camberwell College of Arts, University of Arts London in London, UK.

Shanthi Sonu

Artist & Documentarian

Shanthi Sonu is a transgender artist and activist working towards justice, rights and equality for the LGBTQiA Community in India.

She is currently working on a book of poetry accompanied by autobiographic illustrations that map the course of her unique life fighting for the womanhood she has so desired for herself. The project is a poignant, funny, heart-warming and heart-breaking self-portrait of finding oneself through the difficulties of family acceptance, societal awareness and eventually self-celebration in India.

Shanthi is a radio jockey for Radio Active, which is the first community radio station in Bangalore where she host’s a regular show about sex workers called “Ganatheya Dumenagagi Navvu Manushuru”. She gives sensitisation and awareness talks at LGBTQiA events, art exhibitions, schools, corporates and public forums. Shanthi is also an important facilitator during the Aravani Art Project’s public art happenings throughout India ensuring that passers by and collaborators enjoy a full engagement with their local the transgender community.

Her work as a principal artist and a documentarian with the Aravani Art Project, has given her the power to mix art and activism together to contribute to changing local perception within her own community as well as in local communities across India.

Priyanka Divaakar

Artist & Cultural Advisor

Priyanka Divaakar is India’s first transgender Radio Jockey. She works full time with the Bangalore-based community radio station, Radio Active. Her weekly show, Yari Varu, covers local, national and international LGBTQiA issues while working to record the personal stories of diverse sexual minority groups of Bangalore.

In 2017, Priyanka spoke at TEDX MSRIT with fellow Radio Active Radio-Jockey Shilok Shivanya. Priyanka believes radio is an important medium for overcoming stigma and provides a platform to fight for LGBTQiA rights. Radio reaches out to others where they stand so that they might find pride in themselves, come out to their families and friends, and begin to live their lives as themselves. Priyanka believes art can also raise awareness for her community and it was for this reason she became interested in working with the Aravani Art Project.

During our public art event’s Priyanka’s laughter and quick wit can be heard echoing around the neighbourhood. She has become the collective’s cultural advisor audio recording the life histories of many of the project’s transgender collaborators. She also documents the comments, reactions, stories and conversations from the streets surrounding our public wall painting.

Viktor Baskin Coffey

Producer

Viktor Baskin is an anthropologist, filmmaker and artist. She began her career in film and television in Australia where she worked as a production manager, art director and principal graphic artist on feature films and television shows..

In 2012, she came to live in Bangalore to direct a series of small digital documentaries with the women and children in the surrounding villages of Kanakapura. Viktor was struck by the way that the photographs and films she made worked to shape the women’s self-esteem, create social change and build awareness. The project inspired a dramatic change in direction. She now lives between three countries and is completing a double Phd between James Cook University, in Australia and Aarhus University, in Denmark.

Her artistic and filmmaking background has created a research project that uses image making as a mode of understanding another’s experience and cultural context. The Aravani Art Project has created a new way to understand how images and the act of making images together can change our concepts of the bodies that matter to society. Viktor’s broad understanding of transgender culture around the world and the history of images in India helps the collective to seek out support and funding in diverse places.