The Jamuna Community Center, in Windermere, has a beautiful mural in the style of Madhubani folk art thanks to local art instructor Sanjana Deshmukh and a group of students. The eight girls painted a colorful scene that included several women, an elephant and plants on the west wall of the center, located on Park-Ridge Gotha Road.
Deshmukh is a freelance artist and guest lecturer at the University of Central Florida in the Cultural Traditions of India class. She also serves as a mentor and coach to students who are interested in art.
She approached Neera Kar, trustee of the community center, who was excited to work with the students. The center even offered to furnish all the paint if Deshmukh provided the rest of the supplies.
Deshmukh and her students at Art World Academy were eager to get started on the project, which has taken about two months to complete. The girls have been collecting volunteer hours for school.
For this collaborative art project, the eight teen artists met weekly. They brainstormed ideas for the mural, planned a sketch, chose a technique, prepared the wall, traced the images on the wall with the help of a projector, and, finally, were able to create the 12-foot by 36-foot mural.
They created an image depicting women from a rural part of northern India engaged in the activities of daily life.
“While designing we made sure that electrical cables were incorporated into branches, and the elephant carrying the bulky AC unit on the wall also (was) a part of our design,” the girls said. “We faced multiple challenges, which enriched our learning experience. Thunderstorms and rain … made us take cover and secure our workplace multiple times. Rain washed our chalk outline before we got to the painting step.
“This lengthened our time frame to finish the artwork,” they said. “It allowed us to ponder and find alternate ways, like using permanent markers instead of chalk, so that our sketch wouldn’t wash away.”
They discovered artists sometimes must work at night when Deshmukh set up a projector for the girls to sketch the outline. Another challenge was working around the texture of the wall “to cover every nook and cranny,” the girls said.
The artists also learned how to improvise when they forgot their paint can opener and sought help from nearby construction workers, who loaned them their screwdrivers.
They enjoyed the teamwork and the bonding that resulted.
“Involvement in this volunteer artwork taught us to think ahead, push our limits and learn the importance of teamwork,” they said. “Volunteering for this art project is going to be a memorable experience that we will cherish. We are very proud of our effort and thankful to our teacher for her guidance and Jamuna Community Center for providing paints and allowing us to showcase our talent through this project.”
Deshmukh said she was amazed by the results of the project and is proud of her students and their determination. The camaraderie was an important aspect of the project as well, she said.
She originally planned for the artists to work on their own images, but they began helping one another and working as a group to create the best product.
“It was a lot of teamwork,” Deshmukh said.
The artists put the finishing touches on their mural last week, and their last step was to seal the paint.
Deshmukh said the girls will receive certificates that document their volunteer hours.