Women In Design
Aravani Art Project
Monthly Feature // November 2021
Aravani Art Project is a transgender artist group reclaiming spaces in society by creating art to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community.
Aravani Art Project is a transgender artist group reclaiming spaces in society by creating art to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. They are motivated with the vision to change the way people perceive transgender individuals in society. Through their art, they hope to come out in public spaces while feeling confident, safe and having a sense of belonging. Our interview with Aravani was wonderful, to say the least! We sat down with The artists and had an insightful conversation about their inspirations, their love for art and their favourites forms of expression.
Tell us about how you started out?
“We were working at an NGO a few years ago. A crew had come there for some shooting and we met Poornima. She asked us if we were interested in art and painting. A few of us were interested and we started making colourful and vibrant art creating Aravani art project in 2016.”
How has your experience been so far with Aravani?
“We have come a long way with our skills through Aravani. Initially, it was a little challenging to create the sketches and mix colours, but we always had guidance. The sketches were given to us and we would add colour. Today, we confidently create pieces and see it through every step of the way.”
“We have always had support. And nowadays, when we see our work on different channels and Social Media, we are so happy that it’s reaching people and that it makes people happy. Whenever we are out working, people recognise us as artists. We have painted in villages, government schools and people respect us and appreciate our work. This makes us very happy!”
What/How do you inspire yourself to come up with new content?
“When we are approached to work on any project, we always consider the people and the environment. We are motivated to bring the client’s vision to life. Our surroundings and everyday life is a large source of inspiration. We do a lot of work that relates to our community, gender issues or it can be completely out of the gender spectrum. We are very clear about what is commissioned to us and when we can express our creativity. When we are given the freedom to create we have a different process. Another great source of inspiration is when people appreciate the art, it makes us want to create more!”
Tell us a bit about what you are working on right now. Not just with regards to your commissioned work but also your personal projects.
“We worked on a project for Goldman Sachs, it was a confidential project, and it’s one of our favourites because it illustrated everyday life activities and the joy in simple things. We also got to work in many governments schools. It was really joyful because the children interacted with us and painted along with us. The project on the Metro station is an anonymous favourite, it was to pay homage to the COVID-19 warriors in the state! Many of the police officers around gathered to support us and it was a very proud moment for us. The project in the Facebook headquarters, going to different schools to teach kids how to make masks, water conservation awareness at a government school, going back to a school to teach art to kids and so much more!”
These were the many rewarding experiences Aravani has created through art and design. The artists were so full of joy describing these instances to us and we couldn’t have been happier.
What do you think is one thing the design community, as a whole, lacks? What could be better?
“When we share our work, online or otherwise, people are really excited and appreciate the work. They recognise us as artists first and that makes us really proud. When we started out, we were under the impression that this was going to be really hard, that people would criticise us and think a lot before they gave us any work. But we were pleasantly surprised and pleased when people saw our work, they instantly had faith in our abilities and didn’t question us at all. Because we have faith in our skills, the community reciprocated the same! As for the design community, we think that there are plenty of cis-gendered artists who can partner with the LGBTQ+ community to collaborate and create art that is meaningful for everyone. Art is a powerful medium and has been used as a catalyst for change on many occasions. Collaboration is an important aspect because it’s a shared experience of storytelling and understanding each other. With this in mind, it becomes easier to create visuals and share ideas effectively. We should make space for different types of people to tell their stories!”
Aravani has worked on different kinds of projects, from postcards to murals and theatre as well. Amongst all of these different experiences is there one that helped you express your true self?
“We really like working with Canvas. Especially since we get to creatively and strategically mix and match colours to make interesting visuals. It’s also great because, when our canvases are purchased, we feel connected with the person buying them. Connected because a piece of our creative lives in their home. We also really love our murals. When we paint them, we have a lot of fun, making a lot of memories. So, when we return to the same area, we are reminded of all the memories all over again which makes us really happy! Aravani gives us the opportunity to fulfil a lot of our dreams. Whether it’s art or performing arts, we have worked on a lot and shared our work with people. It makes us proud and so grateful that people from different walks of life have seen our work and recognised our talent. We never believed we would ever be on stage acting or get to influence the world as we have. These are unforgettable experiences. Aravani has made our lives just like our art, vibrant and colourful!”
“Pre-Pandemic, we were doing many things. Now post this, we are going with the flow and we’d like to continue the same. We hope to be part of lot more public projects and apply for many grants. We would also love to share our experiences and our art across the world!”
Takeaways for upcoming creatives!
“Be safe, be home. Communicate your emotions and build yourself a strong support system. Embrace your true self and never lose your self-worth. Work towards your dreams no matter what. The world is becoming more accepting so speak your truth and find your support through good friends and family. Prioritise education and learning to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.”
Interview edited by : Ashwini Muralikumar, Dhruti Soni & Team Aravani
We're always open to other perspectives, opinions, and a good chat over some coffee or tea. We'd love to host a conversation with you, head on over to our Discord and get in touch!
With 🧡 Team WID.