I’ve always been a big admirer of folk art from different parts of the country. I love the colorful, simplistic renditions of elements of nature, all so distinct in their style. Our Jaya auntie has been extending elements of nature onto the walls of her home for many, many years. When Jaya auntie, Amit uncle, and their kids, Revali and Sarang, arrived from Madhya Pradesh a few weeks before the wedding, an evening chai session brought with it the promise of some folk art brightening up our bare staircase walls.
Jaya auntie seemed a bit nervous at first, holding the fate of our freshly painted walls in her hands. But we reassured her that they looked too clean for our comfort anyway! And so, branch by branch, our welcome wall got a magical smear of folk art. Traditionally, they would paint on a base of mud using gerumitti for an earthy red, chuna for white, and they’d burn rice to a point just before it turns black and powder it to get an ash grey color. For our wall, they picked some bright, auspicious colors from a nearly inexhaustible palette of glossy acrylic paints. Amit uncle and Jaya auntie run the Adharshila Learning Centre for adivasi children in Sakad Village, Madhya Pradesh. I intend on making my way to their classroom of experimental education someday very soon. As he measured the artwork with a thread in preparation for an ornate border, I asked uncle if this piece could be categorized as traditional tribal folk art. “I would like to call it folk-fusion”, he says. “It’s a mix of our tribal heritage, of the sacred place nature holds in our hearts and our lives, and a bit of our selves, of course!”As I watched the family spin magic, their paintbrushes swishing around like magic wands, I remembered something my (now) husband once told me when he’d decided to paint over one of his works I was very attached to. “It wasn’t meant to be here forever anyway. We enjoyed it for many years, and now it’ll evolve into something new!”, he said. With that thought in tow, I’m basking in the warmth of our beautiful folk-fusion wall until it evolves into something else entirely!