‘MITHILA’ ART from Janakpur Women’s Development Center
The Janakpur Women’s Development Center (JWDC) is a co-operative organization comprised of women artists from Janakpur and surrounding villages in southeastern Nepal. For centuries, the women in this region have produced artwork by painting on the walls and floors of their earthen homes.
The paintings are rooted in traditions, which Maithil women have passed down through generations. JWDC has been instrumental in preserving and developing this transitory but exquisite form of art.
Encouraged by trainings intended to enhance both business skills and traditional artistic talents, the members of the JWDC have been expanding their art in innovative and profitable ways. A strong core of women artists meets six days a week to create art in papers, fabrics, handicrafts and ceramics. Assisted by management staff, the JWDC members make important business decisions.
The organization has grown from seven members in 1989 at its inception to sixty-six members, over a decade later. They love coming to the “office” in Janakpur, a comfortable and supportive environment with women of many castes and backgrounds, free from the constraints of the villages. Outside the office, women are involved in community development activities such as savings and micro credit, non formal adult and child literacy program etc.
The goals of the JWDC include the preservation of an indigenous artistic heritage, the creation of wealth within an impoverished local community, and the empowerment of women within a culture where women’s rights and abilities are often undervalued.
Artists associated with the JWDC have earned their niche as some of the finest contemporary artists in Nepal. They associate regularly with development projects to promote awareness about nutrition, right to vote, safe sex and saying “no” to drugs through their artwork. They often mix images of tales from Ramayana with other folklores, similarly Gods will appear in scenes of family planning. This mixing of traditional and contemporary themes is a reflection of the real world of the Janakpur artists today.
Women artists work in a beautiful complex, which the members have decorated with traditional mud relief designs. The artists share ideas and images with women working in other sections of the Center who produce ceramics, textile, and papier mache. Proud of their traditional culture, they continue to illustrate Maithil rituals as well as define a new horizon for Maithil women. For them, painting is synonymous to a new social life with women friends from different villages and of different castes.
For more information about JWDC visit – http://www.asianart.com/exhibitions/jwdc/introduction.html
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