Why a 40-year-old art school doesn’t give students erasers
Tucked away in a narrow alley near Bhosale Nagar is a haven of creation, a space that nurtures uninhibited thought. Founded in 1981 by Bal Wad, Creative Club Art Studio celebrated its 40th anniversary last month. The studio is now run by Sujata Dharap, daughter of Bal Wad, along with potter and sculptor Rashmi Bhadkamkar, who was Bal Wad’s pupil.
Dharap studied at JJ School of Arts in Mumbai and joined his father in 1985. The studio is open to children and adults. âAge is no barrier, all you need is a love for art,â Dharap said.
Affectionately referred to as Suju Maushi by her students, Dharap has been teaching art in the studio for over 35 years and has a philosophy that every individual has an innate artistic instinct. “I believe that as an art teacher my role is to encourage the creative process of each individual to develop naturally and not be constrained by a particular system or program,” she said. .
Dharap traces this instinct back to the primitive human who began to communicate in pictorial form; she considers art as a language, a means of expression. Her fondness for children is what led her to teach art. âThere is something authentic, spontaneous and real about children,â she added.
The pedagogy of the Creative Club is rooted in the instinctive responses of students to different mediums. Students engage in drawing, painting, collages and clay modeling. However, Dharap has a fairly unique teaching style. âWe don’t give our students erasers because we believe that no idea should be erased; we want our students to be able to solve their mistakes. Every line teaches you something, âDharap explained.
Students are also not given any rules, as Dharap attempts to take the art from a precisely calculated and measured process to a natural and free process. His teaching method aims to shape the form of thought instead of providing the content of thought; students are not taught what to think but how to think. âWe never tell our students what to draw, nor do we ask them to recreate a pre-existing piece. Our role is to give them techniques and to teach them to see, to observe, âsaid Dharap. Instead of being limited by the rules and conventions of the world, students are encouraged to create unrecognizable figures, to express their thoughts as is.
Given the practical nature of the craft, Dharap initially feared taking her art classes online, but switched to digital media. Creative Club hosted an online workshop earlier this year on Impressionism and hosted a session for architecture students on âLine, Form, Form and Colorâ. They run their weekly children’s lot, Satsun, virtually on weekends and also run a weekly online session for adults.