World Art Day: Naga Artists Share Their Journey Into Art - Eastern Mirror
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World Art Day: Naga artists share their journey into art

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Apr 15, 2023 12:21 am

Kohima: Every year, April 15 is marked as World Art Day, to celebrate the artists and their contributions to sustainable development as well to promote cultural diversity around the world.

Eastern Mirror spoke to some Naga artists from varied art backgrounds and their journey as an artist and what art means to them.

Vikuolelie Keditsu (wood sculptor)

Hailing from Chiechama village, the 29-year-old Keditsu developed interest in wood carving early in life, when he was studying in class 6-7. He was inspired by renowned Naga sculptor Lanu Pongen, with whom he shared the same neighbourhood back in those days. Every time he went to school, he used to pass by Pongen’s house.

“I saw him carving and doing works and I got interested and started this journey,” recalled Keditsu, who is now a full time sculptor.

He confided that sometimes people would discourage him by telling him why he wastes time on doing such things. But to him, one should never give up his or her interest.

“It takes time. But if we don’t give up and keep on doing, you will get a lot of experience. You need to have perseverance. There are a lot of challenges along the way but one has to overcome those,” Keditsu said.

He works on portrait relief carving, carving based on Naga culture and other decorative wood pieces.

Cynthia Kolakhe (art and drama educator)

A visual and performing artist by profession, K Cynthia Kolakhe focuses mostly on imparting art education to schools and colleges.

“I want to talk more about art education. There are lots of artists, many self-taught artists who are not so aware about this education. They can really paint well but behind the art, there are a lot of things which needs to be told to the people. Because mostly people think art is just a drawing or sketching on a piece of paper but is much more beyond that”, she said.

For this, they have a team of about 15 people aka ‘artist of Nagaland’, where some of them teach and some paint. Through imparting art to students, she said they want to put across the message that art is equally important like any other subjects.

After pandemic, the team also started venturing into theatre plays in schools and colleges with a focus on social issues and the happenings in and around.

Art is not just a sketching on a piece of paper but it’s everything for Cynthia and she equates it as an addiction

Born and brought up in Kohima, she mostly does modern-urban art in a traditional way. Her “urban Naga” series comprising of different Naga tribes or mixed in a modern version is about modern Naga attire.

Interestingly, viewers will only see female characters in her paintings. This is because she never portrayed male characters in her works. 

Since childhood, she was brought up by her mom and growing up, everything around her and those who helped her were all women.

“I just want to show that women are also equal like men,” she shared.

Lam Grace Touthang (choreographer)

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Lam Grace Touthang performing during an inter-college dance competition in 2022.

“When there is no scope, we have to create one and open the way” are the words of the 28-year-old Lam Grace Touthang.

For a conservative society like Nagaland, it is uncommon to take up dancing as a profession. Yet, there has to be a start and this is exactly what Lam Grace did.

“There were hardly any platforms (for dancers), and we would be so happy to perform for free whenever we get one,” the dancing sensation recalled.

Ever since, she had been organizing and managing various platforms for dancers to come together and showcase their talents.

With the change of time, she also realised that one can earn livelihood through any profession including dance. “When others are earning why not I also earn through dancing,” she said.

She is now a dance instructor at MYC Lamgrace Dance Studio in Kohima.

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Apr 15, 2023 12:21:36 am
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