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Changing the world of children through art

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  Pablo Picasso

Heard melodies are sweet but those unheard are the sweetest. In Nepal there are so many unsung heroes of art who lack the platform and recognition and sometimes disappear with time.
Even today art is under appreciated… we don’t teach our children to be artists and poets and writers. Academics takes precedence and careers with assured monetary benefits are preferred.
Somewhere, kids today do not even know how to play with colour or draw and sketch and let their imaginations run wild.

changing-the-world-of-children-through-artBut there is one young woman artist who wants every child to have the opportunity to explore the world of colours, shapes, textures and dreams. She is young artist Sneha Shrestha, founder of the Children’s Art Museum (CAM) which she established in 2014. Along with her mother, Kalpana Piya Shrestha – an educationist and associate Nistha Shrestha, she runs CAM in Haatisar. Here, Sneha shares her vision for CAM and why it is important to her. “Come visit our museum, spend time with your kids and also get involved with helping them create new things. Simply express yourself through art and encourage your kids. Appreciate their work,” she encourages.

How did envision CAM Nepal?
I’ve always loved art but growing up here, I didn’t really have much art around me and as a creative kid, it was difficult. When I returned from studies in the US, I realised that not much had changed in terms of art availability for all sorts of children, poor or middle-class. I started thinking of this project back in 2009 when I was still in college. I was trying to find ways to do it and then eventually, the idea finally took shape. The project initially started in 2013 but the preparation took a year to complete.

changing-the-world-of-children-through-art1What does CAM do?
Helping kids express themselves through art is our main motto but at the same time, it’s also encouraging literacy – learning and reading, encouraging children’s self-esteem, making them feel good about themselves. Through CAM, we want to change the idea about museums in Nepal. Our motive is just not making art but to help children heal their pain as well to make them feel that they can make art. We also want to create art awareness, and that art can be done using local cheap and that it doesn’t have to be expensive and fancy.

What are the core activities carried out by CAM?
We work with schools and non-profit organisations. We conduct workshops with school children. I/NGOs bring some of their kids here and do art with us. We also facilitate drop-in hours where any kid can come in and do art.
Our monthly event CAM Carnival – held in our own space – allows children to make art in different stalls. As for exhibitions, we display artwork done by the children during the workshops and also by professional artists. So when they come to have a look at these works, they get inspired by what others have done. Since last year, we have started motivational classes. We do different things. It’s a broad umbrella.

What is art for you?
Expression of your imagination

Who can be part of CAM?
Anyone who has the dedication to work for children and are committed. Volunteers play a vital role in CAM so people who want to express their imagination through art and are committed can be the part of CAM.

What does art have to offer to society?
Different perspectives and a tickle of imagination.

changing-the-world-of-children-through-art2Is lack of art correlated to slow development?
The easiest answer to it has to be the lack of creativity which involves thinking outside the box, of original ideas, and alternative solutions that is so apparent. Imagination is not just for art but also for dealing with everyday life situations. That is why art is important from the very beginning as it teaches you to think for yourself. If we had enough innovations here, things would definitely have been different.

Word of advice…
Every kid is born an artist. Some of us remain artists whereas others get taken into bookish style of learning. So I think our effort is a fresh start because we can’t just go to schools and change the Nepali education system overnight. So this is a very small step from our side. Going to schools to give kids a class during their school time makes this subject a part of their curriculum and also involves the school. Our studio is open on Saturdays 11am-4pm. So parents can bring their kids over and spend time together doing creative things here because we want to see this space being utilised to the fullest. Parental involvement, that’s what we want to encourage. You can also visit our website http://nepalcam.com/ for more details.