Poornima Sukumar, a 27-year-old artist who lives in Bangalore, had begun inviting transgender women to take part in wall-painting three months ago. She is the founder of Aravani Art Project, the goal of which is to create a platform for the transgender community to bring about ‘consciousness, well-being through art, awareness and social participation’.
The artists contributing not only get paid but also get a chance to attract inquisitive onlookers and let them participate if they wished to.
The trans community depends mainly on sex-work to make a living. This opportunity to paint in a public place is a source of salvation for the trans people striving to find acceptance in India.
Poornima Sukumar had spent three years, along with Tabs Breese (documentary filmmaker), researching the transgender community. After the completion of this project, she wanted to remain involved with the individuals she had encountered. She said, ‘I wouldn’t be one of those people who leaves with empty promises.’
A major decision was taken by the Supreme Court of India – Justices had granted the ‘third gender’ a legal status for the transgender community. There was a rise in trans rights interests due to this decision of the government, and the government’s acceptance of diverse sexual identities.
The muralists wanted to bring together a remnant of the transgender community and give it an impetus to start a real movement for change. So Sukumar, began collecting phone numbers and building trust in the community that seemed impossible to get through to, ‘It’s a space where time is money, and if time is not spent in sex work or begging, it’s seen as wasted.’
Amidst all that rush, the Aravani Project was created. Sukumar says, ‘I want to be received as approachable, an access point for inclusion. I’d like to make ten more people ‘approachable’ like me. That’s the goal.’
Not only are they reaching out to more ambassadors to aid them with their project of bringing about awareness among Indians to accept the trans community, but they also want to widen their project to festivals all over the nation.
Poornima Sukumar is currently working at home in Bangalore, she plans on extending this movement to Chennai and Mumbai next. This initiative taken by her is a very-well thought of project, that is not only appealing to the onlookers, but they can also take active part in the making of the murals. Masses can now join hands in this free movement, paint the country colorful and bring about the much-needed acceptance of the third-gender among Indians.
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