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Outsider Art at the Kochi Muziris Biennale opens doors to people with autism

Kochi is hosting Muziris Biennale, one of the biggest art festivals in the world. Artists from across the globe are part of this festival. This time, the Biennale committee as included people with disabilities through an event called Outsider Art, which is an exhibition of paintings by people with autism.

The event is from 22 February to 3 March and will be held at the Dravidia Gallery at Fort Kochi. A strict selection process has been followed with the best works likely to be showcased at the event. The selection process will be done by Bose Krishnamachari, one of the founders of Kochi Muziris Biennale.

Ajai Vadakkath ,who is a member of the organizing team of Outsider Art, is part of the inaugural edition as well. Vadakkath, who has a son with autism, believes that children and adults with disabilities are exceptionally talented and need the right platform to showcase their skills.

Last year, I happened to see some brilliant paintings by children with autism. That is when I decided to do something exclusive for them. Clearly, we do not want this to look like a children's event. We are very particular about choosing the best works from disabled artists. We are highlighting art and disability is just one of the attributes. Also, this is not sympathy art. The works will show the passion and hard-work that has gone into it. We have a lot of support from Krishnamachari and his team which is great. - Ajai Vadakkath, Chief Organizer

Outsider Art is open to disabled children and adult artists from across India. The team has even collaborated with schools and NGOs for children with autism across India. Currently, they have over 60 entries after the selection process. Vadakkath says that it was a tough job to pick the best from the lot. Most of the works that they have received now are from artists who are between 11 to 33 years of age.

"We have been trying to get sponsors to fund the event. We have ample support from Biennale foundation but we want more people to come forward and support this beautiful cause. Children and adults who exhibit their works at the event must feel that it is done on a professional scale. We want them to be treated with respect and dignity", says Vadakkath.

Anima Nair is the co-founder of Sense Kaleidoscope, an NGO from Bengaluru that empowers children with autism. Nair's 18 year old son Pranav is also going to be a part of the event.

"I'am very excited about the event. My partner has told me about Outsider Art events in western countries, and I am glad this has come down to India. There were days when I have had sleepless nights thinking what my son is going to do without me that eventually I set up an organization for children with autism. There is so much that we can do around us. Art is definitely a viable option for people with autism. It is a great platform to showcase their skills and it must be celebrated. Moreover, it helps to break stigmas about disabilities. Most of the families are still hesitant to accept that their children have a disability. If they have ample support from their families, nothing like it", says Nair.

ALSO READ: Teen art prodigy Ansh's stunning watercolours show maturity, individuality

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