Paintings from Odisha – Collection 1
The World through the Art of Adivasi Children
PARI brings you the first ever archive of paintings by young Adivasi schoolchildren. The work recorded and documented here is from students in Classes 3 to 9 in schools in Jajapur and Kendujhar districts of Odisha.
We have 111 paintings by 98 Adivasi schoolchildren from 57 schools in this first collection from Odisha. The children are in the age group 9 to 15 and studying in Classes 3 to 9. Within the young artists, girls outnumber boys 68 to 30. Each painting is accompanied by a 20-30 second video where the young artist introduces herself/himself and their work. Most have spoken in Odia, but a few have also recorded their videos in Adivasi languages including Ho, Munda and Birhor.
The 12 tribes the children belong to are: Bathudi, Bhuiya, Bhumij, Gandia, Gond, Ho, Kolha, Mankirdia (also spelt as Mankidia – an offshoot of the Birhor tribe), Munda, Samti, Santal and Sounti. Some of these are classified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.
These young Adivasi students of limited means and resources, living in some of the remotest tribal hamlets in Odisha, worked and produced these vibrant paintings with crayons, pencil colours, cheap sketch pens – and just a few managed to use water colours. All the paintings are on ordinary chart paper, the only type available to them. This collection in the archive was built in collaboration with community-teachers of the non-profit Aspire and the Tata Steel Foundation under their joint 1,000 schools programme.
The enormous amount of work that went into it on the ground, from the students and teachers involved, is truly inspiring. Aspire’s community-teachers read out to children PARI stories on Adivasis and village communities, culture, gender, environment and climate change. The children responded to those themes, working on them further, directly relating them to their own lives, families and communities, retelling some parts of the stories in their immediate context – and in these beautiful paintings.
[To know more about the volunteer- teachers' experiences read: History, Science and Geography, all in one class; 'Every child connects to stories about the environment'; Deep dive into the climate crisis and Climate crisis: buffaloes, elephants and people].
The 57 schools whose students participated in this endeavour are spread across 9 blocks. Of these, 55 are in Banspal, Champua, Danagadi, Ghatgaon, Jhumpura, Joda and Sukinda blocks of Jajapur and Kendujhar districts. Only four of the total of 98 Adivasi students are hostelites in schools located in Athagad and Bhubaneswar blocks of Cuttack and Khordha districts.
PARI’s tech partners DigiQuanta worked relentlessly to make this archival collection as creative and efficient as it is.