These artists use human body as canvas to turn stories of mental health into art

Oct 05, 2017, 17:30 IST | Krutika Behrawala

Seven artists, armed with art supplies, meet at a Carter Road coffee shop. They split into pairs and start painting imageries of flowers and choker neckpieces, using each other's body parts as canvases. Guided by body-painting artist Kim Kaul, they learn how paint feels on the skin and how colouring a body part needn't be in patches. She elaborates by using her entire face as a canvas. Next, Shanaya Tata, a 24-year-old artist who works with Humans Of Bombay, asks a question: If a woman who struggled with an eating disorder in her childhood tells you her story, how will you interpret it on her body? The artists suggest various images — an artwork of a child holding a heart or fragments of a body pieced together as a strong human form.

Artist and alternate healer Ava Nagapore paints a choker on a volunteer’s neck, reflecting how we get caught up in communication and fail to recognise the beauty in every conversation
Artist and alternate healer Ava Nagapore paints a choker on a volunteer’s neck, reflecting how we get caught up in communication and fail to recognise the beauty in every conversation

The meet-up was a prep session for SplatterSpeak: Body Art for Mental Health, taking place on Sunday, ahead of World Mental Health Day (October 10). The event, also held in Bengaluru and Delhi, invites you to share your mental health journey with the artists, who will translate it as an artwork on the body part of your choice. They include Avantika Mathur, Cyriac Varghese, Ava Nagapore and Rupesh Kamble.

Body-painting artist Kim Kaul shows how the entire face can be used as a canvas
Body-painting artist Kim Kaul shows how the entire face can be used as a canvas

Word to art
The event has been organised by Living Stories, a project started recently by Sanchana Krishnan, a 24-year-old Delhi-based writer and photographer, who works for mental health advocacy. "The idea is to create a safe space where people can share stories that may not be so pleasant. It could be about the collapse of a marriage or relationship, or some kind of abuse they've faced in the past or a condition they're living with. When you see your experience translated in a physical form, it helps you reconcile."

Shanaya Tata and Rupesh Kamble practise their styles on each other at the pre-event session
Shanaya Tata and Rupesh Kamble practise their styles on each other at the pre-event session

How it works
Krishnan, who has received 50 applications so far, adds, "One girl wants her arm painted to cover burn marks inflicted during abuse. Another person wants to be painted on her spine as it signifies strength."

Sanchana Krishnan
Sanchana Krishnan

The artists will use body paint and acrylic colours mixed with BB cream. Tata adds, "Creating the artwork will be an organic process. We advised the artists not to push a guest for information, if they are unable to open up. Instead, the artists will deconstruct the conversation to create imagery of the storyline, and blend it with their painting style. At prep, we equipped artists with enough skills, so that they can offer art as therapy." You can also document the experience through photographs, which are yours to take home.

ON: October 8, 11 am to 7 pm
AT: Bonobo, Bandra West.
Register: goo.gl/T9pbxs
COST: Rs 100 onwards (pay as you wish)

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