New Delhi Woman Creates Art For Community

Artist Sreejata Roy works in an unusual medium. She does not use paints or pastels, but rather creates her art out of the landscape of New Delhi.

Roy is currently working to turn a desolate trash-filled park into a work of art the community can enjoy, as today's Washington Post explains. The park, located in the Dakshinpuri neighborhood, was once home to an illegal gym and at night was overrun with drunks and drug users. When Roy first proposed her project, women were suspicious and men were hostile; some even thought Roy was trying to steal the land, while others assumed she was working for the police. Roy says she was threatened and asked to leave, but she continued to work on the park.

Her first artwork was a banner campaign, which asked people not to throw their trash on the ground. She later organized a group of children to sweep the garbage away. Her efforts have lead to a cleaner park, but on occasion, she has had to compromise her vision. Although Roy hoped for a green space, full of plants, without segregation, the residents wanted barbed wire to keep out strangers and a separate, fenced section for women. "We want a space where we feel safe, away from the men. A women's corner," explained Chandan Kaur.

Last month, some of Roy's work was destroyed when the city tore down the illegal gym. Officials brought down Roy's wall, which had been used as a canvas for community art. The wall had been painted blue by neighborhood children, and covered with their doodles and thoughts. Tina Negi says that the wall was "an invitation to everyone to speak their minds. We wrote about the park, drew scenes of women resting under the banyan tree... Now we feel empty without the wall."

But Roy is undeterred. She did not expect the park to be an easy project. She details the difficulties of building a piece of communal art on her blog, The Park. She does not seem upset by the opposition she has encountered, but rather appears to expect it as part of the process. She explained that her intention as an artist is to "provoke a response in the community people," and to increase awareness that "we are all touching one another's lives through this space." "For me, art is not a beautiful thing created in studio solitude. It has to belong in the community," she said.

In New Delhi Park, Art For Community's Sake [Washington Post]
The Park [Official Blog]