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Inspired by daughter, Shalini Gupta starts the Art Sanctuary for youngsters with disabilities

Shalini Gupta, mother of 17-year-old Gayatri, has set up a platform called 'Art Sanctuary' for youngsters with disabilities to showcase their talents. Gayatri, who has Down syndrome, is a trained photographer and was seeking a platform to showcase her skills. This led Shalini to start this venture.

Gayatri has always been passionate about photography and it seemed inevitable that she would take this up seriously. Mother Shalini Gupta, her biggest supporter, wanted to ensure that disability would not come in the way of Gayatri finding an avenue to showcase her talents and that led her to launch Art Sanctuary. The aim is to set up a larger platform for young adults with disabilities with creative skills. Launched in July this year, Shalini aims to reach out to more youngsters.

Gayatri has Down syndrome and was fortunately to have done her schooling at an inclusive centre in Dellhi where she had many opportunities to experiment with art and photography. She then moved to Bengaluru with her parents. It is here that Shalini seriously started looking for opportunities for Gayatri.

Back at school in Delhi, Gayathri was active in arts and sports. She was applauded for her performances too. So when we moved to Bengaluru, I decided to home school her. But there were very few opportunities where her skills were celebrated. I wanted to create a platform for her and people like her. That is how how Art Sanctuary was founded. - Shalini Gupta, Founder, Art Sanctuary

People with intellectual disabilities over 16 years of age can be a part of this venture. Some of the skills Art Sanctuary seeks to promote are photography, painting, drawing, to name a few. "The talents can be used to build vocational skills that can help them gain independence and become self-reliant", says Shalini. Gayatri, who loves all things to do with design, is building the website of Art Sanctuary. "They are a silent minority who are pushed under the carpet. Now, I'am looking forward to see how many people can be empowered through Art Sanctuary".

Gayatri and Shalini are preparing for their first first exhibition in New Delhi in November this year where clay modelling, photography, and paintings will be exhibited. Disabled people who love dance and music can also send their videos and these will be played in the background during the exhibition. Renowned artist Bose Krishnamachari, Founder of the Kochi Muziris-Biennale, will select works that will be exhibited.

The Art Sanctuary has a small art gallery at a farmhouse near Delhi as well which seeks to inspire aspiring artists. It also partnered with a the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) to hold a film making on smart phones course for youngsters with disabilities.

Ajai Vadakkath, whose son is an artist on the autism spectrum says its wonderful to see Shalini starting such a venture. "It is wonderful to see parents taking initiatives to open up spaces in the social cultural scene for youngsters with different disabilities. Shalini is someone who has been doing this for a long time. She has been working on creating awareness about disabilities and inclusion in society. So I am sure her new initiative will go a long way in mainstreaming these young talents".

Do you want to send your music/dance videos for the Art Sanctuary exhibition? Contact Shalini Gupta at +91 98102-55297.

ALSO READ: Art that moves & inspires, given a new life by HeART Beat Foundation

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