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Srinivas – Founder of The Chroma Academy

18 March 2012 9 Comments

Dear all,

Coffee With Sundar successfully completes 4 years today! Along the way, it has met many people who personified passion and purpose.. Today is no different. Please join me to welcome Mr. Srinivas, founder of Chroma Academy. The Chroma Academy began its activities in the year 2000 with the aim of being a nodal centre for promotion, development and training of motivated individuals who are keen to sustain and enrich our heritage. For more details, visit The Chroma Academy – http://www.thechromaacademy.com/


Me: Sundar Rajan G S
KS: K Srinvas, Founder of The Chroma Academy

Me: Hello Sir, Can you talk about yourself, your background and your introduction to art.. When did you start your journey with art etc?

KS: Dear Mr. Sundar, It is a great pleasure to find the interest you have expressed in our art forms and in the Chroma Academy’s activities. To start with about me and my background.

Our family has long since been involved in the fine arts for quite some generations. We have records in our family archives which speak of our ancestors who were involved in the visual arts for at least five generations! We originally belong to Andhra Pradesh. We settled in the city of Chennai at least 100 years ago. Our forefathers were poets and littérateurs. My maternal grandfather, the late Mr. Mylavarapu Suryanarayana Murthy was a poet of repute in Andhra Pradesh. He translated the works of Poet Tulsidas and Poet Surdas into Telugu classics. My paternal grandfather Late Mr. Krothapally Subrahmanyam was a painter (later, was attached with US Consulate General’s office in Chennai as an artist & designer). My father was an airline official and my only brother is a Chartered Accountant
working in Perth, Australia at present.

I have been into some art form or other ever since I remember. By and large I am a self-taught artist. During early years, I have had a brief stint in the Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts, Chennai, as a casual student and I was one among the very few to have benefited from the guidance of Late Prof. Adyar K. Sreenivasulu and Late Prof. S. Dhanpal. Both of them held high positions in the National Academy for Arts (LKA). Mr. Adyar K. Sreenivasulu was a highly skilled figurative painter who was projecting Indian traditional and folk art forms into the contemporary idiom. Mr. S.Dhanapal was a renowned sculptor and a keen advocate of modern art and I am one of his students who gained allegiance to the modernity through him.

Shortly after this I joined a famous Craft NGO, aided by the Ford foundation and Commonwealth as an in-house artist. I was also taking a keen interest in their craft awareness camps and their revival programs. Though I left this institution my love for the arts and craft tradition remained secure and out of self interest I started interacting with various artists, crafts persons and basic workers. Thus started my journey into art….!

Me: Who were your role models and teachers? Can you share some experiences? Some are of the view that art has to be explored from within rather than learnt from a teacher. What is your view on this?

KS: I can’t think of anybody as my role models, but I have great respect for Picasso, Marc Chagall, Dr. Annada Coomaraswamy (indophile), Gillian Ayres (British abstract painter), and M.F. Hussain in the field of art. Every time I watch the movie “The mystery of Picasso” a full length movie which contains rare footages of Picasso working on a canvas, I become ecstatic. I have great admiration for Buddhist sculptures of Amaravati and Pallava sculptures to name a few.

Learning art from a teacher is a worthy exercise-don’t have to waste your precious time going through years of trial and error. The guidance and the first hand experience in watching a teacher work on his canvas, goes a long way in enhancing one’s inert talents.

Me: When did you start the Chroma Academy? What is the objective of the organization? How many people are involved currently?

KS: I have been teaching art, working in the areas of craft development and heritage since 1995.

The Chroma academy began its activities in the year 2000 with the aim of training interested individuals in fine arts. We have trained many school children, hobbyists, designers and media professionals. Currently, we are focusing our activities on imparting training to adults from various backgrounds. Several talented people who are underprivileged were also given training free of cost.

Documenting visual material, techniques pertaining to ancient crafts and support activities to the aged or ailing craftsmen are a few of our pet projects. I am a person who prefers to have my individual spirit and independent thoughts go into my art rather cater to or succumb to commercial art. So we, at The Chroma Academy, do not generally liaise with others or seek funds from any agency. However, voluntary contributions from our close associates help our support activities to some extent.

All activities of The Chroma Academy are conducted by me personally. The projects involving traditional arts skills are outsourced to the authentic artisans. Few dedicated volunteers also help us in our activities.

Me: How did your interest in Kalamkari start? What is Kalamkari all about? Can you speak about the recent initiatives you are taking for the art form?

KS: Even during my college days, I used to interact with several artisans in their work, marketing and social conditions. During such time, I had the opportunity to work with the artists of Kalamkari, mat weavers of Pattamadai, soft stone turners of Tamil Nadu, wood turners of Ettikopaka(AP), and few other artisans. Kalahasti
is the center for Kalamkari. My focus shifted to Kalamkari. I got three or four artisans to work for me and came to know about their methods. There are many artisans who are traditionally bound. I found that they have no way to meet their ends. We @ The Chroma hope to find them better and more clients. Workshops are being conducted and more than 100 people have benefited so far. We also take the role of consultants for Kalamkari regarding classes and products Eg. A client from London wanted to know about his grandfather’s purchase from South India in Kalamkari. Information along with designs for the students can be sent on request online. We have been actively associated in promoting Ramayana in multimedia. The great epic was done in Kalamkari style and tagged with our help. The multimedia CD ROM has been promoted by www.viotrix.com.

For this blog users who are interested in our country’s ancient art, I have put down here a short introduction about Kalamkari (which is also one of the slowly dying ancient arts). I hope this will enable the users to get a bird’s eye view of Kalamkari.

The pdf guide can be found here - http://coffeewithsundar.com/Kalamkari%20ebook.pdf

Ancient Kalamkaries were used as the backcloths in temples, decorations in temple-cars and were typically used in rituals. In those days, India was famous for dying with indigenous colours obtained from the roots, barks and flowers of the trees. Kalamkari literally means pen craft (kalam in Persian means pen).This craft was in vogue in many parts of South India, all along the Coromandal coast and presently it is confined only to Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam, both in Andhra Pradesh. The subjects are mainly drawn from the great epics of Ramayana, Mahabharatha, and Bhagavatha. These celebrated creations which were both the works of arts and utilitarian pieces are now relegated to the status of mere mass made handicrafts /souvenirs. In spite of efforts from numerous agencies, Kalamkari still remains in a decaying state. As an artist who has a firsthand experience and having worked with many artisans in Kalamkari, I can say that this is the blatant truth.

Me: Do you see much interest among students to learn such traditional art forms? Or are the students keener on learning something more contemporary and recent?

KS: Both students and parents these days want immediate and quicker results, be it traditional or contemporary art. They shun any art which requires hours of concentration. In doing so, they switch over from one form of art to another. This is the current scenario with regard to fine arts. But getting to know the traditional art forms will only enhance one’s capacity in contemporary art. Acquiring in-depth knowledge is required for the students to shine in any field. Obviously modern and contemporary art has wider applications. For those who want to learn traditional
arts or crafts, I would advise them to learn from the artists who have firsthand experience in that particular art or craft. Do not patronize amateurs or commercial establishments. You can research on the internet about these arts and crafts; join the dedicated blogs projecting them. During British occupation a large number of art and cultural objects were acquired by the museums. So visit museums often and make a study.

Me: Do you see the trend that children today are keener on video games and Nintendo’s instead of pursuing art as a hobby? How do you inspire students to study art?

KS: Yes, you are right Mr. Sundar!

These video games and Nintendo’s can really retard a child’s creative instincts of the brain and their tactile skills. However coaching kids with basics of computer and using it to make art can be engrossing .These skills can also aid them in their professional careers. Children in general are motivated, and “born artists”. With little patience, efficient art tutors can make them inspired easily. The problem for any art educator would be the parents of these children who are mostly ignorant or insensitive towards art. Many art teachers here are semi-skilled and semi-literates. The school managements’ themselves are not sufficiently informed about the academic training of art or about the modern trends. Also it is distressing to see many itinerant traders in the name of international franchises setting up art centers in many places with the only aim of making quick money. Parents and students
should enquire in detail before enrolling into any art school.

Me: One last question. Can you provide some tips to encourage art/creativity development for children…

KS: Sure.

• Use magnets to proudly display your children’s drawing on the refrigerator door where all can see it

• Do not worry if you cannot figure it out. Its beauty may reside in your child’s use of colours, lines and shapes. Do not ask, “what is it?”. Consider it a design. Encourage your child to discuss it if he or she chooses.

• Your child would probably enjoy doing art at home. Art supplies make good gifts. Keep a small box filled with the following:

• Scissors, glue, paste, tape, crayons, markers, ruler, stapler, water colour set, clay or play dough and paper in variety of sizes, shapes, colours and textures.

• Your child will also enjoy doing art with you, Enjoy Art together!

(Extract from the book: Art and Creative Development for Young Children by
Robert Schirrmacher)

Hope you find my answer succinct; please note that I have expressed my views on children only in Indian context!

Me: Thank you very much sir. I really appreciate your time & effort. On behalf of all CWS readers, best wishes to yourself & The Chroma Academy.

Readers, hope you enjoyed this edition of Coffee With Sundar! Thank you very much for all the support!

Previous Interview: Bhaskar, Easy Blood
Previous Art Work: Skandagraja

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