Maukaa, an art foundation, is striving to keep the important Indian art forms from dying. We are a group of self-motivated individuals who want to save the rare, authentic Indian art forms and prevent them from disappearing from our day-to-day lives.We are essentially a public art trust with member beneficiarias as the artists who practice traditional Indian art forms like the Indian Miniature Painting, Kalamkari Painting, Phad Paintings, Blue Pottery, Kavad Art, etc.
We are working towards giving the community of artists a structurally organized sector in India and we hope to become an international role model for the same. It will enable us in giving our artists an opportunity and a platform to showcase their work globally and make beautiful, authentic Indian Art forms popular and easily accessible to the world.
I am Prerna Jain,the founder of The Maukaa Art Foundation. For over nine years, I have travelled around the world as a Management Consultant for some of the top consulting firms. However, Art and Philanthropy have always been my calling. With a dream in my mind and a will to follow my heart, I left my well paid job in New York to discover my own path. That was two years ago. Since then, I have travelled across Europe to learn Art and Art history but Indian Miniature Art has been my siren, it made me return to my birth place, Jaipur. I had no idea that I would not only be learning an ancient revered form of art but will eventually fall in love with it enough to start Maukaa. I believe that serendipity played its part and I got naturally drawn to this cause resulting in the formation of Maukaa.
Here is the link to our fundraiser page – http://ket.to/MaukaaArtFoundation
Why are we doing it?
We have observed a steady decline in the number of artists who practice traditional Indian art forms. If this trend continues, our art forms will be extinct in the next couple of decades. We believe that with a little help, we can stop this from happening and preserve our rich culture. Our Art needs to be passed onto our future generations and with a little effort on our part, it can be safeguarded from dying away.
If we draw a comparison with the western countries, one can appreciate the tremendous job they are doing in preserving their traditional art techniques and as well in teaching it to the newer generations. The USA, France, Netherlands and Germany are few examples among many others who are doing incredible work in teaching classical American realism or Dutch painting methods to their art students. Beaux De Art, Paris; Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam; New York Academy of Art, Art Students league of New York have already set examples that can be emulated anywhere in the world.
On the contrary, there is no Art school in India that teaches Indian miniature paintings or any other important Indian classical Art forms which would help preserve the art form. Mostly, there are only references in art history text books in the form of introductions in the curriculum of Art education.
One Art school that still teaches the techniques of Miniature art in great detail as well provides the right atmosphere to artists to pursue newer contemporary ideas is in Lahore , The National college of Art.
Indian miniature paintings are one of the oldest and most alluring Art forms in the world and is now also one of the rarest. Making these paintings is not only difficult, but also a time taking process. A lot of hard work and patience goes in to developing this skill. To think this art form will have no heirs because we, as a society didn’t do enough should be a wake up call.
Preserving Miniature Art is preserving it’s incredible history spanning across centuries. Until 1300 AD, Indian artists painted religious texts either on palm leaves to create manuscripts or they followed fresco techniques to paint on walls. By mid-1300s, paper and pigments arrived to India from Iran (Persia), after which this Art form flourished. This was particularly popular in the Northern parts of the subcontinent (India and Pakistan) and went on until the 20th century. The importance of this art form is undeniable.
Unfortunately, this art form has lost it’s way in today’s time in India and in most part of the western world.
Indian artists and artisans who know this Art form, from their fore fathers and who still practice it are mostly based in Rajasthan (Jaipur, Bikaner, Udaipur, Jaisalmer). Most of these artists live a life in poverty as this Art form does not generate much revenue for them. Most of the art produced is now commercial and sold as souvenirs in local art galleries bringing in little money for sustenance. For obvious reasons, the artists no longer want to pass their skills to their next generations.
They have these rarest skills which they learnt from their forefathers. Their ancestors learnt this art in princely studios of past iconic rulers of India. This precious skill is what is in the danger of extinction. The time is not very far when these art forms will only remain in history text books and our future generations will not be able to do anything even if they want to.
Social Impact of this project.
Art being an industry in itself, can help make a living, livelihood of the artists depends on the success of their art forms. A nation without its art, culture and traditions is merely an economy that runs on numbers. It is our responsibility to save our culture and heritage for our children. Our children will always have to look up to the Western world standing on our buried rich culture.
Also, the artists who still pursue it do not have any identity. The traditional paintings that you generally buy are not signed. It’s unfortunate that how conveniently, we have turned our Art merely into a craft and our artists into craftsmen.
I have personally met so many of these talented artists like Asharam Meghwal from Jaipur, Rajasthan. He received his National Award from the then President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. However, even that did not help him much. His monthly income is around INR 15000 rupees a month and leads his life in utter poverty. It’s is a shame for our country that despite such exceptional skill and creativity, our artists are forced to lead such a poor life.
Govind, another such miniature painting artist from Jaipur was forced to give up on his generationally passed skill because he didn’t make a decent livelihood for his family. He is now a chudi (bangle) making artisan. This is especially sad because Govind’s forefathers used to work in the studios of the Rajput rulers.
Maukaa, wants to give them back their identity and we aim to work towards a structurally organised art sector in India.
We want to be a ray of hope for the artists who do not see a future in passing the art form down to their younger generations. We plan to get their work into the lime light and give the artists the recognition that they deserve. We will act as an umbrella organisation that will pursue many initiatives that would do better to save our Art and culture. We want to become a voice for these struggling but incredibly talented artists.
What are our initiatives and why we need outside support?
- Pursue few contemporary Art projects with a vision to hold exhibitions at international arenas like Art Stage, Affordable Art Fair, Art Biennale etc.
- An open format Art school and an Artist residency.
- Making documentaries to capture methods and materials of such Art forms.
- Create a database of all traditional artists and artisans to make Maukaa a one stop place for Indian Art forms.
- Manufacturing of stone and natural based pigments to make them available for anyone who wants to use the old methods and materials.
We need impressive financial support from every possible source to realise our goals and turn them into reality. And we need this sooner than later because the time is limited. Crowd funding is important because we want our today’s generation of people to become part of this noble cause and become aware of the ground realities of how our rich forms of art and culture are losing their sheen .
How crowd funding will be used?
We need some immediate funding to lease a physical space as our office and a studio set up to start working on few contemporary Art projects. Funds will be used for rentals and providing salary to the artists who will be involved in this project. Cost of rental of a space and pursuing a project for a year comes around INR 15 lakh rupees.
Additional funds at the later stage will be used for documentation and documentary related work and to fulfil other goals of this organisation.
Where we are today?
We started a project on contemporary miniature Art in the mid of year 2016. However, it stopped because of the lack of funds. A lot of business development activity was also done last year to find the possibility of a platform of such Art work in Asia and we have already managed to build a decent network with Art dealers and galleries in Hong Kong and Singapore.
We have also recently shot a full-fledged documentary to capture current state of being of Miniature Art in Jaipur, which is now in post production stage.
Additionally, website and artists database creation work is in progress.
We appeal to everyone who come across this initiative to support and spread the word. It is a very important cause and someone has to stand up for these talented artists. It’s good to see the advent of start-up boom in past 5 years in India and this gives us hope.
If we don’t save our culture and heritage today, then we will have nothing to give back to our future generations.
With this, I want to thank all my supporters from the bottom of my heart , who have believed in me and this cause so far.
It’s up to you now. Be part of this incredible cause and make a difference in the life of an artist – the artist who holds the delicate future of our Indian art and culture.