A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE CHILDREN FROM INDIGENOUS AND FORMAL ART EDUCATION BACKGROUNDS
Keywords: child-art, indigenous art-education, home-learning, narrative illustrations, community learning
How do social environments with their diverse contexts, influence interpretation of stories and art making? And how do children from different art-education backgrounds respond to stories and interpret them through images? This paper discusses experiments conducted with two groups of children, each representing different socio cultural, education background and learning patterns. The groups explored belong to the indigenous home learning pattern and formal art education in schools. The study sets out by narrating the same story to children belonging to these different communities followed by analyses of their interpretations and representations of the story. The first group in this experiment has children from the indigenous tribe of Madhya Pradesh, the Bhils, whose exposure to art is from an early age, in a home learning setup within the community. The second group consists of children belonging to an urban area, Mumbai, who have been exposed to the art education curriculum in schools.
The study investigates the associations and forms of expressions that are represented in the illustrations by the children. In the case of Bhil children, art is a way of life, and it is closely related to their culture, beliefs, practices and this reflects in their reception of the narrative itself. Their focus on the story as a whole stems from their idea of art as a narration technique or story-telling method. In contrast, the group of children from the urban areas gave attention to details in the scenes, rather than the narrative as a whole. The research further explores how the different social environments and their diverse contexts; one very closely connected to nature and the other the contrast, have an impact on the reception, understanding, visualization and representation of the same story.