Walls of Water: How A Trans-Led Initiative Is Shaping Schools, Halls, and Public Spaces

The Aravani Art Project aims to create safe and inclusive spaces through art.
The Aravani Art Project aims to create safe and inclusive spaces through art.The Aravani Art Project

The Walls of Water project speaks to the transformative potential of art as a catalyst for social change, community empowerment, and awareness on critical issues like water, sanitation, and hygiene. Led by the Aravani Art Project in collaboration with St+Art India Foundation and Viva con Agua, this initiative transcends the conventional boundaries of art, becoming a spirited movement that redefines spaces, reshapes perceptions, and fosters inclusive dialogues.

At its core, the Aravani Art Project embodies the essence of respect and recognition for the transgender community. Founded by Poornima Sukumar in 2016, it aims to create safe and inclusive spaces through art. The term 'Aravani' itself signifies worship of Lord Aravan and serves as a non-patronising term for the transgender community; emphasizing inclusivity, and empowerment.

The Walls of Water initiative, situated in Madhya Pradesh, serves as an embodiment of collaboration, creativity, and community engagement. By partnering with local artists, the project bridges the gap between artistry and societal issues, using murals as a medium to narrate stories of transformation, hope, and awareness.

Beyond the mere act of painting walls, the project takes a holistic approach through workshops, brainstorming sessions, and interactive activities. This participatory engagement facilitates a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by vulnerable communities, encouraging a shared space for ideas and experiences.

The engagement of children, local artists, and community members in the creative process also brings a sense of collective ownership and investment to the project's goals. It's not merely about the strokes of paint on the walls; it's about the conversations initiated, the insights gained, and the unity forged towards addressing pressing issues.

With over ten villages witnessing a visual metamorphosis, the Walls of Water project breathes life into spaces that were once mundane. Schools, community buildings, and public spaces are transformed into colourful canvases that not only showcase the beauty of art but also serve as educational tools, inspiring discussions on crucial topics like clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Each brushstroke on these walls symbolises hope and progress. It speaks to the collective aspiration for a cleaner, healthier, and more inclusive future. The Walls of Water project becomes a beacon of change, sparking shifts in behavior and inspiring communities to take ownership of their surroundings and well-being.

This collaborative effort between the Aravani Art Project, St+Art India Foundation, and Viva con Agua underscores the power of unity and diverse voices in addressing societal issues through artistic expression. Together, they challenge societal norms, break down barriers, and advocate for the fundamental rights of marginalized communities.

As the project continues its journey, it amplifies the voices of those often unheard and celebrates the transformative impact of art in bringing about tangible changes. It serves as living proof of the belief that art is not just a form of expression but a tool for societal introspection that fosters empathy, understanding, and collective action towards a more equitable and sustainable future.

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