Every canvas has a silver lining

Disabled Artists

Sheela Sharma is a painter, but one who paints with her foot. From the moment when she first became aware of the world around her, she discovered that she had no hands. This was the strange beginning of an extraordinary life and her love for art which she discovered in school. 

“I embarked on a painful regimen of training my feet, left foot, in particular, to help take care of my essential daily chores,” the young artist told Metrolife. Her works along with many artists like her are currently on display at an exhibition, titled Beyond Limits in the city. 

The exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, Siri Fort, is showcasing over 100 art works by artists with disabilities from across India. This is especially to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is celebrated every year on December 3. The show is on till December 8.
Speaking to Metrolife Sharma says that thanks to her strict regimen and will power her foot “gradually became so perfectly trained that the toes could hold a pen to write.” She persisted with exercising and rigorously training her left foot and today is a very well established painter. A recepient of many awards she has become a member of the ‘Mouth and Foot Painting Association’ with which she has a very deep attachment.
Arveend Budh Singh’s left foot has been rendered useless by polio, since childhood. His family conditions were modest and becoming a painter seemed like a very distant dream. But he loved it and did small projects at home to keep alive his interest.

“I started with greetings cards and after receiving some recognition through ‘Family Of Disabled’ I started exhibiting my paintings and also started selling.”Singh says, “what disabled people lack is a platform to exhibit their skills and market themselves like any other artist. There is not much scope for artists like us in our country, art is privately owned and hence reaching out becomes difficult,” he voices the feelings of many artists like him.
A full-time painter now, Singh has won silver and gold medals in ‘Abilympics’, which is a kind of Olympics in India for the disabled to display their skills.Balbir Krishnan says, “Life is good right now and I am happy there is no problem.”
Krishnan has two prosthetic legs, as both his legs were amputated after a train accident. “The financial condition at home was nothing that could support my living as painter. I just took up the Rs. 5 ballpen and a set of ordinary paper and started with black and white sketches.”
Krishnan had a chance meeting with Yogendra Nath Yogi, the then director of Lalit Kala Academy who saw his paintings and decided to exhibit them in a gallery.“My paintings were mostly sold out, not at very high prices but I managed to help raise my family’s living standards,” says Krishnan.
He has won several national and international awards and is happily married to Michael, his gay partner, since last year.
Amid all the pain and hardship what shines through is the persistence and resilience of these artists, who despite their unfortunate circumstances have managed to carve a niche for themselves. 

Beyond Limits in an endeavour of Family of Disabled (FOD) and has brought disabled artists from different parts of the country on one canvas. The project helps the artists in reaching out to society with their imagination and creativity and also provides them an opportunity to benefit financially, earn public recognition and appreciation.The artworks have been specially curated by eminent artists like Arpana Caur and Sudip Roy, both  recognised worldwide for their paintings in contemporary genre.

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