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Women in the arts: a picture speaks louder than words (UPDATED April 18th, 2014)

Engage women in low income urban areas and local artists in India to bring awareness about their contribution to families and society through art (paint and photography). We will involve local artists to display their artwork as well.

Photo of EarlyBird
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Our idea consists of two phases:

Phase 1: Invite artists to present their ideas about “Women’s contribution” including womens’ roles in their families and the society through art expression (photography, paint, sculpture, etc) in order to motivate women to explore more opportunities in life.

Phase 2: Involve local communities (women and girls) to communicate through art. Possible topics could be to describe their dreams, their ideal community among many.

The format:

Exhibition: Collaborating with local NGOs and museums in India to create an open space for locals to come and draw.

One day art project (easier approached by low-income areas):  NGOs bring canvas and tools to the community so that women and girls can express themselves through drawing

Possible exhibition places:

National Gallery of Modern ART http://ngmaindia.gov.in
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, the premier government funded arts organization in India http://ignca.nic.in
Pahel Educational Health & Social ActivitiesSociety
http://ngofile.com/Pahel%20Educational%20Health%20and%20Social%20Activities%20Society

Explain your idea in one sentence.

We want to provide women a public presence in their communities through art.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

The value and the contributions of those women in India who take care of their families as housewives are sometimes overseen by their community. We are trying to empower them by making their contributions better understood by the public.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

Women in low income urban areas. Artists. Their art will be displayed in public exhibitions. NGOs working with women issues in India.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

Our team and local NGOs. We need support from local organizations to promote this project and get permissions to have the art exhibition in public; also get women involved in the process by expressing their values in the form of visual art.

Where should this idea be implemented?

We will first target low income urban areas in New Delhi.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

We prototyped our idea at NYU in New York City, called Women in the Arts: a picture speaks louder than words. We setup a drawing booth in one of the university’s buildings during lunch hours, by inviting students come and draw their ideas and visions regarding women empowerment and safety. Their drawing cover different topics including gender equality, women in science, same-sex marriage and more. We are really impressed that we got so many support and ideas. All these drawings and collage we created are displayed on campus for a week during the Gender Violence Awareness week. And there are a few interesting observations we made during the prototyping: a) Male students were more actively engaged. b) Female students were more shy when we asked them. c) Asian students were particularly reluctant to participate. However, we got couple of Indian students who wanted to voice their views. d) A couple of lesbian couples approached our table and draw proudly their view about women empowerment. e) students who decided to participate were decisive and eager to sketch.

24 comments

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Spam
Photo of Natasha Freidus
Team

I love the way you are integrating art into this work. I wonder if the drawing workshops and /or exhibits could include a policy element as well a la "Photovoice" Photovoice is a participatory method used in public healththat allows people to represent their issues and communities through photography. Participants are able to define for themselves areas of strength and needs for change, and the photos are used as a springboard for discussion and dialogue among the group and with policy makers at a final exhbition. I don't know if the method has been used with drawings in the way you are describing but I think it would be exciting. Here's a link for more info: http://www.photovoice.org/

Spam
Photo of Sofia Zafeiropoulou
Team

Thank you for your comments Natasha!

Photovoice is really interesting. We will definitely check what we could achieve through this method.

Spam
Photo of Beth McHugh
Team

Nice work team! Rafael connected me to your idea through the idea I posted:
http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/ideas/empower-the-community-to-create-their-own-change

I can definitely see art being a great way to help women build confidence while empowering them to improve their community. Looking forward to hearing how the prototyping goes. Let me know if you want to connect for any further brainstorming together.

Spam
Photo of Rafael Carabano
Team

Thanks Beth, we are starting our prototype phase in the upcoming days. As you mentioned art is a great way to empower women and provide them with a voice. We will keep you updated as we move forward, and hopefully we can work all together to help them have a safe and better enviroment.

Spam
Photo of Rafael Carabano
Team

Hi Beth we updated our post today. We prototyped our idea at the School of Engineering at NYU in NYC. Please check our findings and pictures. Looking forward to hear your comments. Our team would like to brainstorm together as we are moving forward.

Spam
Photo of Beth McHugh
Team

Great work all! Curious if you guys have thought of how to measure the impact of this direction. Surveys or monitoring violence in the area? I also read that you had some audiences more comfortable than others participating. How can we better engage those audiences? I was wondering if there are templates or other ways to make a blank piece of paper less intimidating. Let me know if you want to chat any further on this!

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Interesting points Beth. I"m not sure there's a way to measure safety (or level of violence before or after). I personally see this idea addressing more the issue of empowerment than safety per se; hence measuring a direct impact might be difficult.
I find interesting the idea of having templates to help people get started. It seems that the team did this partly with the words cloud and images from the platform but it might be an interesting idea to explore for the next prototyping event.

Spam
Photo of Beth McHugh
Team

Thanks for the reply Anne-Laure! You're right, this is difficult to measure. My background is on the web so I'm not quite sure how to apply it to these scenarios but I think it's important. Surveys perhaps? Posing the question to determine if there is a way to get more feedback and learn if we are impacting the areas we want to impact. Also a good way to get more insight into how the process can be improved.

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Beth, you're right that it'd be great to have ways to measure impact. I'm not sure what kind of questions could be asked and also whether there would be a direct correlation between the activity and the feeling of empowerment. However, I can imagine having a team asking 2-3 questions to the participants after they engage in the activity.
I guess it will also depend on the group involved in the drawing activities.
You're also right that it matters to document the process to improve it.

Spam
Photo of Rafael Carabano
Team

Hi Beth
thanks for your comments! we are planning to do another round in the upcoming weeks.

Definitely we learned from this first experience. In this first prototype we had different elements that supported the experience: cloud words, pictures, the challenge theme, etc. As a team what I see we could have done better: keep an accurate estimate of male/female participation (I tried to do it and came up with a 60/40 ratio) but it was hard to keep track since we have people approaching the table at the same time, and we didn't assign one of us to keep count formally.
Additionally as a team we need to align our speech when we invite participants to the table, and try to make them feel comfortable and welcome. We tried to be personable, casual and warming, but we could have presented the information more complete. Probably this could have helped to get involved more female students.
We will be documenting our experience in terms of process, logistics and tips. Hopefully it will be helpful if any individual or NGO would do it in the future.

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Nice work team Early Bird and great prototyping effort! Very exciting stuff!

It's also nice to see the learnings you developed from this experience.
I'm curious to know what you are envisioning as next steps. I can see you redoing one or two versions of this session to see if you develop more learnings. (By the way, if you were to do it again, what would you differently?). It'd be great if you could also get an organization in India (or in another country) to do a pilot so that you can compare. You could then maybe develop a small tool kit with guidelines on how to run the workshop.
In parallel, you could imagine ways of collecting the results from different workshops and exhibit them.
Looking forward to seeing this idea evolve.

Spam
Photo of Rohith Rai
Team

Thanks Anne,
We did not expect a huge contribution from these students, If not for the lunch time when everyone visits the cafeteria, our prototyping would have been a different outcome. We are very happy with the outcome, and each member has put in a great effort for the first prototype. We have not discussed for an other prototype, but we would like to display all these arts for the Gender Awareness Week at NYU. We will discuss the possibility of another prototype, and this time it could be in a different place (may be outside Bobst library, where there is more traffic), and also we might talk to the wellness center people to display these arts in the display board. The possibility of prototyping in India is certainly high, but we have not talked to any NGO regarding this. We will discuss more about this and post the update.

Spam
Photo of Rafael Carabano
Team

Thanks Anne for your comments. We need to evaluate our next steps. Besides those you mentioned, we are going to explore several alternatives: collecting more drawings and find a mean to publish them: website, book, blog for example. Definitely, we will look for an organization might be interested to working with us or build upon our work. This idea is very appealing for many groups/organizations. We will continue working on it.

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Thanks Rohith and Rafael.
Doing more workshops and building upon the Gender Awareness week at NYU is a great idea.
I like the idea to collect drawings and share them whether as a book or online.
Good luck!

Spam
Photo of Rafael Carabano
Team

excellent video about an initiative to empower women through arts and craftsmanship in Delhi.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP2O4z1bVKw

Spam
Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

and thought you might also see if there's aspects of this initiative you could learn from: http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/research/creativity-sparks-community-conversations Exciting possibilities!

Spam
Photo of Rafael Carabano
Team

Meena thanks for your comment! there are exciting possibilities as you mentioned! it is a way to provide women a voice and empower them in this case through art

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Glad you referred to that initiative Meena as I immediately remembered your post when I saw this idea. :-)

Rafael and all, I think it is a great to build upon several research posts on the role and power of arts. I like also the idea of having artists working with local women and girls.
You could also envision a version for young people.

Great idea for prototyping! When are you planning to start at NYU.
You could also have an even quicker version which would be to have a few small stands with paper and markers and invite people to join and draw. Another idea would be to put papers and markers in the elevators with some guidelines... You could change the paper everyday...

Another option I could think of would be a mobile version where you could go in various communities where you could set up a small exhibition and have in parallel some workshops.

Exciting possibilities indeed! Looking forward to seeing the idea evolve.

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

You might also want to reach out to Vishal: http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/ideas/street-theatre-storytelling-for-social-change

Spam
Photo of Sofia Zafeiropoulou
Team

Thanks for your comments and the contacts Anne! The idea with the elevators is great! We will start prototyping at NYU as soon as possible .

Spam
Photo of Yuan Wang
Team

Thanks for the suggestions Anne! We are all excited to start prototyping the idea here. We discussed the possibilities including setting up booth in open space let people draw also have small exhibition of paintings and photos. And in Kimmel Center they have this kinds of small photo exhibition about Muslim women, which we could refer to.

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Thanks Anne! Papers and markers works. We can use the area out of the cafeteria and ask students to stop by and do a 1 minute sketch or just distribute papers to students in cafeteria and collect them back.

Spam
Photo of Luisa Fernanda
Team

Very interesting idea.
It might be worth to reach out to these guys in Delhi http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/research/revitalizing-neighborhoods-with-street-art
They aren't doing work directly with communities but they are based in Delhi and can give insights into how to prototype your idea.
Also, it might be interesting to invite some of the Indian community in NYC to participate. There are a few organizations in Queens working with South Asian communities.
Looking forward to seeing this idea develop.

Spam
Photo of Rafael Carabano
Team

Luisa thanks for your comment! we are very excited about start prototyping in the upcoming days. Actually next week a gender violence awareness campaign starts at NYU. So we will take advantage and get the community involved and give them the opportunity to express themselves through art. We have a large Indian community on campus already. For sure we will try to get involve as many as we can. We'll post updates as we move forward