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Art workshops hold out a world of possibilities for children with disabilities in Goa

Of all the senses in our body, touch is the most intimate and yet perhaps also the one not explored fully when it coms to creating art. This is the space that heritage architect Siddhant Shah explored in curating the 'Senses' aspect in the recently concluded Serendipity Art Festival in Goa.

Children with disabilities learn, create different art forms at workshops

After all, what is a photograph if not a moment frozen in time and condensed on a two dimensional surface? It is an image created through the play of light and shadows. And it is this play of light and shadow that creates a texture, the depth and layers bringing the viewer an experience closest to the original. Shah elevates that texture to tact tiles and offers the blind an experience of the world of visual art.

Read on NewzHook - Blind get to experience the magic of photographs for the first time

After they had a taste of this in the display, the visually challenged young enthusiasts were keen to create art of their own. So for the five days of the festival, the children learned how to create and share the joys of art through a series of workshops on Jaali work, block printing and other crafts. Over 300 children from different schools took part in these workshops.

"It was a small workshop with students from the Disha school in Panjim, where they got to explore block printing and understand how the wooden form of the Jaali comes out", explains Shah, who is dedicated to making art and heritage accessible to people with disabilities across India. "The workshop was in resonance with the Jaali exhibition in the gallery at the Serendipity Arts Festival."

The workshops were an eye opener for the children and their teachers, and even more for the general public, which got to watch them closely at grand setting of the central courtyard of the Aadil Shah Palace. For the visitors watching these art pieces in progress were a revelation of how people with disabilities can break down so many barriers.

Manjulata, a former teacher, was struck by the sight of these children bending over, intensely absorbed in giving shape to their masterpieces. A slight detour from the exhibition opened her eyes to how the world places limits on the possibilities of children with disabilities.

"I am amazed by the pieces these children have created, especially the ones with intellectual disabilities. I noticed their focus and concentration and this shows they are capable of so much more than we give them credit for" - Manjulata, Teacher

Sandhya Khalokhe, manager at the Disha school, believes such experiences are essential for children, as they help to not just to build their skills, but also plays an important role in making them a part of the mainstream.

"This activity has helped in mainstreaming them, and by that we mean that the general public that is coming and going out of the festival is looking at the talent our children have", said Khalokhe. "The other important thing is the exposure that our children are getting, hat they can come out of the schools on their own and do different things with different people."

Coming out into a space like this was a big step for these children, as Khalokhe pointed out.

"They are used to their teachers on a one-to-one basis. Today I noticed that there are different people sitting in groups with them and teaching them things. You saw the pleasure on their faces, and the joy with which they are doing this. That is the most important thing for us" - Sandhya Khalokhe

Shah hopes to continue his efforts much beyond this festival. He strongly believes that there is great value in developing these skills as they

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