80 year old tribal woman’s art sells in Milan and Paris

This wonderful news comes to us from India.

Tribal woman Judhaiya Bai Baiga’s painting recently traveled all the way to an exhibition in Milan, Italy and was sold on the spot. This was not a maiden venture, her painting had before also created quite a stir.

80-year-old Baiga is a resident of Lorha village in Madhya Pradesh. She is from a tribal community and has had the pleasure of seeing her art traveling to distant galleries in the world as well as other places in India. Baiga says,” Age or fame has nothing to do with the errors. Perfecting any art is a myth as there is always scope for improvement.”

When Baiga was asked as to how she felt about getting international recognition, she says, “It has not changed my life as such.  But yes, a change can be seen as more and more women, including my daughter in law is taking an interest in painting. Some of these women always wanted to paint but did not have avenues back then.”

Baiga comes from a tribal community which is heavily dependent on the resources of the forests for their livelihood. Some of the members of this community also engage in menial jobs. Education, employment and roads are yet to reach the region.

Baiga lost her husband when she was 40 years of age and she now lives with her two sons. She has one daughter who is now married. Her community likes to dress in the most brightest and colorful clothes and go about life with the belief that there is no substitute to hard work. This is the reason why Baiga took to painting at the age of 70, an age where most people retire and rest. However, Baiga, who had worked in the fields for most of her life, finds rest and relaxation in painting.

Baiga says, ”Painting takes me to another world where I am as free as a bird. When I learned about a teacher who is willing to teach for free in our village, I decided to give painting a try, something I was never interested in. Yet on the very first day, I found my passion.”

She joined Ashish Swami, a well-known art teacher and an alumnus of Shantiniketan, West Bengal. He runs his studio in several tribal belts of Madhya Pradesh in order to prevent local traditions and cultures from becoming extinct. Initially, Swani and Baiga would be content with whatever her art was selling at, but soon they realized the value of the paintings and would stay firm on the price. Swami says that paintings by Baiga now sell at anything between Rs 300 to Rs. 8000.

Image source: The Better India

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