In our ever-evolving world, it's undeniable that the kind of art that takes center stage in our collective consciousness comes from a certain place of privilege. The glitz and glamour of upper-class urban society can overshadow the vast reservoirs of talent residing in the economically struggling regions of the city. Even as a publication, we are sometimes guilty of focusing on particular urban demographic who produce or consume a ‘gentrified’ body of art. Yet, it is crucial to remember that creativity knows no geographic, class, caste, gender or religious boundaries.
On a personal note, I teach several children who just as talented as kids hailing from more privileged strata of society. These talents are often hidden from the public gaze due to a lack of accessibility. Often they bring forth new perspectives that ‘proper’ urban society might overlook. By acknowledging and empowering such creatives, we not only diversify our artistic landscape but also tap into a wealth of creativity waiting to be celebrated and shared with the world. In our quest for innovation and fresh perspectives, it is imperative that we look at the abundant talent scattered across each and every nook and corner of our nation.
Mumbai is a city of contrasts — slums surround skyscrapers. In Mumbai, the richest Indian city, the stark wealth gap in its residents is visually manifested. However, there is a catch when it comes to the talented digital creator from Mumbai we are exploring today. While she does not hail from the upper echelons of Mumbai's urban society, she has not let that stand in her way of sharing her talent with the world. Today, we explore the heartwarming story of Punam, a prolific teacher and artist, and her art academy.
When we think of street art, we imagine a group of hip-hop-influenced youth with their spray paints and their skateboards, and more often than not, they come from a particular section of urban privileged society. However, Punam does not adhere to any of these stereotypes. She is a middle-aged married woman using the medium of street art for self-expression, to beautify her locality and also to share her knowledge with young students. But there’s more! Punam’s specialty lies in 3-D street art or 3D pavement art. She is able to craft lifelike 3D illusions on roads and streets using anamorphic techniques. This genre of art relies on optical illusions to create the perception of three-dimensional depth when viewed from certain angles.
In 2022, Punam captured the internet's attention with her 3D artistry adorning streets, walls, and even blackboards. Operating under the moniker 'Punam Art Academy', she has a tremendous digital presence with her YouTube channel boasting over 800 thousand + subscribers, captivating viewers with her mesmerizing creations. One notable example involved Punam crafting a zig-zag path on a road, giving the impression of a 3D structure. Astonishingly, she and some children walked on it only to discover that they could safely leap from the apparent edge of the maze. It was a clever optical illusion, visible only from a specific vantage point and brought to life when captured by a camera.
Yet, Punam's talent extends beyond this singular feat, with her channel showcasing a diverse range of anamorphic images. The most brilliant quality of her artistry lies in simplicity. In one of her latest videos, she showcases to her students an effortlessly elegant way of drawing a 3D car on the blackboard. One of her many noteworthy artworks features a large mural portraying Lord Shiva in deep meditation, his long hair hanging over his shoulders.
Punam is not just an artist but a teacher as well. She operates an art academy in India, sharing her skills with eager students, who come from impoverished backgrounds. Thanks to her immense reach on social media, her lessons are not just limited to those students but can be accessed by any of us. From drawing cute animals, landscapes, and beloved cartoon characters to creating optical illusions that bring drawings to life, Punam’s lessons cover it all. For her, art is not just a form of self-expression; it's a way of life, inspiring emotions and fostering creativity in others.
Follow Punam here.