Naga artists rewriting script on disability
Kohima, Dec. 21 (EMN): With art as a primary weapon, four Naga artists with disabilities — Kutoli N, Imlisunep, Amenuo Khoubve, and Nokmachier L Jamir — have chosen it to narrate their stories, infiltrate and change a culture riddled with ableist norms.
The artists and their artwork were featured in an exhibition earlier this month on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, organised by the office of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, in Kohima.
Nokmachier L Jamir
A self-taught deaf artist, Nokmachier L Jamir from Ungma village under Mokokchung district, said: “My art is my voice”.
He graduated high school from the Deaf Biblical Ministry, Dimapur and completed his higher secondary school from the National Institute of Open School.
He covers a wide range of subjects but specialises in portraits. He is fascinated by the ‘spirit of a person that emerges from his brush’.
Jamir also has a special interest in Anime art. He finds several characters compelling and draws inspiration from them to further develop and expand his creative expression. From trying to replicate them, he has gone on to create his own. He said he felt blessed to devote so much of his life to his heart’s desire and is excited to see what unfolds in the future.
He expressed hope that his artworks inspire others to embrace each other’s differences. He said he believes that with passion and hard work, one can achieve anything and conveyed that anything is possible if one tries and does not give up.
Amenuo Khoubve developed an interest for drawing at an early age. She had the desire to create her own art since the time she could hold a crayon in her hand, she said.
A self-taught deaf artist, Khoubve would draw and doodle with colour pencils whenever she got the chance. Her obsession with drawing continued as she grew older and started painting in 2016.
“I was always ready to draw anything which caught my eyes,” Khoubve said.
The natural world and sceneries that surround her inspire her artwork.
Painting has allowed her to think more creatively and observe the world more closely which is reflected in her art. Browsing the internet is also a source of motivation for her, she said.
She experiments with oil, watercolour and acrylic; and draws inspiration from artists who are not afraid to experiment with new techniques and mediums.
As a young artist, she is still trying to find her path and the subject that she loves the most. However, she is clear that she wants to show more deaf artists to the world and help the deaf community to believe in themselves.
Kutoli N is a freelance writer by profession and paints in water colours as a ‘therapeutic regimen’.
Following an automobile accident in 2014 which led to her paraplegia, she discontinued her academic pursuits to work as a freelance proof-reader, editor and writer.
It was around 2018 that a friend suggested that she try water colouring as therapy for her constant SCI-related pain. That is when she discovered her passion for watercolour impressions, she said. The medium not only served as an antidote to her pain, it allowed her a new form of expression and freedom. In 2020, she brought out a botanical-themed calendar depicting local flora of Nagaland. She has never received any formal training in painting.
Kutoli draws inspiration from the beauty that is epitomised in nature. Her favourite subjects are botanicals, birds and everyday objects that bring her pure joy, she said. Her medium is primarily watercolour but she enjoys an occasional foray into acrylic or oil pastel.
Born with cerebral palsy, Imlisunep Longkumer from Dimapur, paints with his mouth. He was always interested in painting from a young age though he has very little hand functionality.
In 2020, he discovered the art of painting with his mouth when he asked his parents to buy him some colours and brushes. Thus began his creative journey of fabric painting.
“Colours make me happy and I find joy and feel relaxed when I am painting,” he said.
He loves nature and is inclined towards painting picturesque landscapes. His primary focus is natural scenery. He depicts his version of the earth using his imagination. He said he feels a ‘huge sense of fulfillment’ with every finished piece. He has also tried painting with his feet.
His family is his biggest supporter and complements his work by personally customising frames for his art pieces according to his directions. He expressed hope to open his own art house in the future.