I’ve just returned from six weeks in Varanasi, India.
I have some answers and I have some questions:
It was my great privilege to be able to work with some of the city’s most outstanding young artists.
These are some of the students at Vidyashram, The Southpoint School:
some of the 5th grade class with their bookmaking projects at Buddha’s Smile School:
and, students attending Banaras Hindu University:
There are approximately 400 million children in India. This is the world’s largest child population and includes an estimated 20 million child laborers.
Buddha’s Smile School (BSS) serves children from extremely disadvantaged communities.
These are children who work to support their families:
Many have jobs picking through garbage heaps for sellable materials.
Some have worked the horrendously dangerous job of walking miles alongside of wedding processions as human lanterns.
In this job, a line of a dozen or so women and children are connected to each other by live wires. They will walk barefoot, at night, for hours, balancing precarious electric structures on their heads, for a very low wage:
This is Rajan Kaur, the founder of BSS, contemplating growth with some of her students:
…and the making of a mural in the entrance of the school:
Making art with these kids was one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime and makes the other side of the planet seem much closer.
“This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”
This is an excerpt of a message from U.S. President Jimmy Carter on the Voyager Spacecraft time capsules, the ‘Golden Records’.
These are currently the most distant of all human-made objects.