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April '03

The aesthetic side of the being

- by Emmanuelle and Priya Sundaravalli

From February 21st to 28th, the Pyramids Art Centre exhibited works of students from Deepanam and Transition primary schools, from the high schools Future School, Last School, and After School, and from free students.

The Pyramids Art Centre

True art means the expression of beauty in the material world. In a world wholly converted, that is to say, expressing integrally the divine reality, art must serve as the revealer and the teacher of this divine beauty in life. The words of the Mother are a beacon of light guiding the Art Exhibition at the Pyramids, an exhibition put together after a break of four years. The primary aim of this exhibition was to be an exercise in collective learning for the students of Last School-Super School.
Art and creativity have a very important place in the Free Progress system of education visualized by the Mother for Auroville. They aspire to awaken in students a sense, perception, conception and intuition of beauty. According to Sri Aurobindo, The mind is profoundly influenced by what it sees and, if the eye is trained from the days of childhood to the contemplation and understanding of beauty, harmony and just arrangement in line and colour, the tastes, habits and character will be insensibly trained to follow a similar law of beauty, harmony and just arrangement in life of the adult man.
The Pyramids Art Centre receives students of all ages from many of the Auroville schools. In their approach to teaching art, the teachers believe in four stages of development and have formulated appropriate methods for each stage. The first stage is the stage of the child/youth who has little contact with his aesthetic being or with the materials of art. In stage two, a certain level of interest has been awakened in the pupil, which often results in a spontaneous expression of concentration, a primary quality demanded in art. In the third stage, the teacher reverses the approach and begins to require more, to limit and to create a stricter frame of reference, always and only with the conscious collaboration of the student. Here the student discovers the tapasya of creativity. The final stage, which the teachers at the Pyramids confess has not yet been fully explored, aims to enter into domains of intuition, to know through experience the capacity to fly high and see far, so that finally one can identify with the object of work. This stage is said to correspond to the 'No School' phase of self-development. The Mother describes artists at this final stage as yogis: For like a Yogi, an artist goes into deep contemplation to await and receive his inspiration. To create something truly beautiful, he has first to see it within, to realize it as a whole in his inner consciousness; only when so found, seen, held within, can he execute it outwardly; he creates according to this greater inner vision. This too is a kind of Yogic discipline, for by it he enters into intimate communion with the inner worlds.
The setting-up of this exhibition had three aspects to it: the physical dimension, the psychological dimension, and the educational dimension. The challenges in the physical dimension included the full commitment of all students for at least two weeks to plan and execute the installation, and to make a choice of the art work and the area of the Pyramids where these would be displayed. As a collective learning exercise, the students of Last School were given the full responsibility of creating and putting up the exhibition, only assisted by the teachers when necessary. The students were divided into groups, who created displays for the different types of artwork and mounted them in various areas of the Pyramids. Equal space, effort and consideration were to be given to all the work to be displayed - stained glass, sculpture, sketches, drawings based on architectural perspective, abstract paintings and craft work, as well as studies of various kinds and explorations in colour and matter and contrasts in black and white.
The psychological dimension was more complex, and demanded several innate strengths and behaviour patterns from the students and teachers. For the students, this included the necessity to maintain a collective harmony, to discover for oneself a source of self-confidence within, to have the ability to make decisions yet harmonize them with the other team members, to take responsibility and meet the commitment within the two-week time-frame, and most importantly, to awaken care and concern for all others in the team. The challenge for teachers was in their ability to remain available yet as far in the background as possible.
The educational dimension was aimed at going beyond the outer forms of aesthetics and skills, aspiring towards a truer measure of achievement, such as the extent to which deeper issues were consciously met, understood and surmounted.

"Art is nothing less in its fundamental truth than
the aspect of beauty of the Divine manifestation".
The Mother


See also: Education

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