Along with a few adults, three children with special needs are part of an art exhibition where their therapeutic paintings will be on display.
Augustine Thilak, who has curated the exhibition, took us around the gallery and showed the paintings done by his students. “As we all know, art is therapeutic and calms down a person’s mind. More so, art can be an ideal means of expression for individuals with autism. I’ve been working with the children for the past year. I help them with some brush strokes and they chose the colours. Painting calms them down and they are happy when they paint. You can notice how their mood changes — from being aggressive and restless, they become more composed and calm. When I started teaching them painting, their strokes and actions were random and aggressive. But now, they paint slowly giving attention to details,” says Augustine, proudly.
The children belong to Sangamam, a centre for children and adults with special needs, in Teynampet. The theme of the exhibition explains the consciousness of matter into the formation of five elements — space, air, water, earth, and fire. The title Aarush has been aligned into the artistic works expressing their view of the creation of the universe and the evolution of life.
Painting means the world to twin sisters Melvena and Matildaa Michael, two non-communicating autistic children, who are exhibiting their works at the exhibition. Their elder sister Dr. M. Merlyn Michael, who plays huge support for the siblings, says, “Matildaa was always passionate about colouring — be it pencil colouring or crayons shading, she loves it. When she joined Sangamam, she came across water colouring and showed a huge interest in it as well. If she is angry or has trust issues, she quickly takes her paint box and does landscape colouring. That’s her way of expressing her moods and feelings.”
But for Melvena, painting is more of a stress-buster. “So when she is frustrated or cannot communicate what’s in her mind, she gets into painting. It relieves her and makes her a lot happier. After my sisters took up art, I’ve seen a visible change in their behaviour and outlook. It really helped them,” smiles Merlyn.
Meenakshi Shah, a mother of participating artist Aryaman, tells us that painting gave her son a sense of completion. “This is an abstract form — however they paint, at the end of it, they can see a beautiful picture. They will get a sense of achievement without stressing much. If you see, each painting has unique features and that’s the beauty of this exhibition,” says Meenakshi about the art exhibition that's on till November 16.