VAST vi­sion for art

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Jigme Wangchen from T/Yangtse

Art, as they say, is a way of life.

What started out as an idea ig­nited by pas­sion for art be­tween two artis­tic minds has grown into the Vis­ual Artis­tic Stu­dio of Trashiyangtse pop­u­larly known as VAST-Yangtse, a non-profit con­tem­po­rary art cen­ter based in Trashiyangtse Dzongkhag.

VAST-Yangtse was founded by two art en­thu­si­asts – Jigme Dorji and Cho­jay Tsh­er­ing, both school teach­ers at Trashiyangtse.

The main aim of the club is to cre­ate a plat­form for ar­tis­ti­cally in­clined youth in Trashiyangtse to ex­er­cise their cre­ativ­ity and to keep them en­gaged dur­ing week­ends and hol­i­days through artis­tic ex­plo­rations and other so­cially use­ful and pro­duc­tive work.

Most of the mem­bers (rang­ing from age 6 to 18) come from nearby schools. “This club not only ben­e­fits the stu­dents of Trashiyangtse and nearby dis­tricts but the lo­cal com­mu­nity equally en­joys its artis­tic ac­tiv­i­ties,” said Jigme Dorji.

Ac­cord­ing to him, it has helped foster in­ter­ac­tion and ex­change of ideas among youths in­clud­ing dropouts through a se­ries of art work­shops and art camps.

Jigme Dorji has sac­ri­ficed many things in life to pro­mote con­tem­po­rary art in east­ern Bhutan. Be­sides teach­ing in schools, he ac­tively en­gages him­self dur­ing week­ends and hol­i­days by vol­un­tar­ily teach­ing ba­sic arts and spends his qual­ity time in­ter­act­ing with the mem­bers.

Within a short pe­riod of time, the club has in­spired and trained more than 300 stu­dents in learn­ing ba­sic draw­ing and sketch­ing tech­niques since its in­cep­tion. Cur­rently, there are more than 35 ac­tive mem­bers from var­i­ous schools and the ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties are pro­vided to stu­dents free of cost.

VAST-Yangtse has or­ga­nized many art and poster com­pe­ti­tions and par­tic­i­pated ac­tively in var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional art com­pe­ti­tions to en­hance the un­der­stand­ing of global is­sues and chal­lenges faced by the world.

Ev­ery week­end, the mem­bers of the club gather ex­actly at 2pm and en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties like ba­sic draw­ing, sketch­ing, paint­ing, and out­door learn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties such as land­scape sketch­ing, na­ture walk with pho­tog­ra­phy and clean­ing cam­paigns.

The club also or­ga­nizes art talks and camps, field trips and ex­hi­bi­tions. Fur­ther, to know more about tra­di­tional arts, the club in­vites lo­cal ex­per­tise to share their skills in tra­di­tional paint­ings, sculp­ture and VAST-Yangtse also ren­ders com­mu­nity ser­vices as per the needs of the com­mu­nity.

Apart from its weekly ac­tiv­i­ties, VAST-Yangtse has or­ga­nized sev­eral art camps with an aim to bring youth to­gether and ex­change ideas through var­i­ous forms of art.

The few art camps con­ducted so far are the sum­mer art in­ter­ac­tion camp in July 2017 at Kan­glung, Trashigang with the theme, “Break­ing down the bar­rier through Art” with fi­nan­cial sup­port from the In­dian Em­bassy in Thim­phu.

An­other win­ter youth art camp was con­ducted in De­cem­ber 20, 2017 with the theme, “Youth in­ter­ac­tion through art” at Trashiyangtse funded by the Depart­ment of In­for­ma­tion and Me­dia.

Karma Dhendup, a mem­ber of VAST-Yangtse said that be­fore the art cen­ter was in­cepted, Trashiyang­ste was found lack­ing in recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties for youth. “The only thing we had was a foot­ball ground and a play sta­tion shop but VAST-Yangtse has helped youth en­gage them­selves pro­duc­tively.”

Karma Dhendup said he is proud to be a mem­ber of VAST-Yangtse as he can show­case his ta­lent in art and also con­trib­ute to com­mu­nity ser­vice.

Un­like tra­di­tional Bhutanese art, con­tem­po­rary art started rather late in Bhutan.

The club was set up in line with VAST- Bhutan un­der the guid­ance of artist Azha Karma Wangdi in mid-2012.

VAST-Yangtse by now plays a vi­tal role in pro­mot­ing art ed­u­ca­tion in east­ern Bhutan. It serves as a gath­er­ing place for youth of the com­mu­nity by fo­cus­ing on art ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial and phil­an­thropic projects.

The big­gest chal­lenge Vast-Yangtse used to face was ren­tal for its cen­ter. How­ever, they shifted to a new place in March this year af­ter be­ing granted kidu of art ma­te­ri­als and house rent by His Majesty The King.

“Bud­get con­straints to con­duct our camps, ex­hi­bi­tions and other ac­tiv­i­ties is a ma­jor chal­lenge,” shared Jigme Dorji.

Ad­di­tion­ally, with in­creas­ing mem­ber­ship, the club faces staff short­age. With co-founder Cho­jay Tsh­er­ing re­cently posted to Paro, the onus of tak­ing care of the cen­ter is now on Jigme Dorji.

VAST-Yangtse has many ac­com­plish­ments to its credit. Stu­dents have won sev­eral na­tional and in­ter­na­tional prizes and cer­tifi­cates in­clud­ing the cer­tifi­cate of dis­tinc­tion from the 19thKana­gawaga Bi­en­nial Chil­dren Art Ex­hi­bi­tion in Ja­pan.

Two mem­bers were re­cip­i­ents of the pres­ti­gious schol­ar­ship to study B.A. Fine Arts at the Ma­haraja Saya­ji­rao Univer­sity of Bar­odo, In­dia and an­other awardee re­ceived a full schol­ar­ship to study B.A. Fine Arts in Bangladesh.

Mem­bers from VASTYangtse have also won the first and third prizes re­spec­tively in dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories in­clud­ing a cash prize and cer­tifi­cates of merit dur­ing the In­ter­na­tional Mother’s Day or­ga­nized by the Bangladesh em­bassy in 2014.

Artis­tic ac­tiv­i­ties help to break down bar­ri­ers and build friend­ships, said Jigme Dorji adding that par­ents also ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in VAST-Yangtse ac­tiv­i­ties by send­ing their kids to at­tend club pro­grams. VAST-Yangtse has flour­ished and gained pop­u­lar­ity within a short pe­riod of time.

VAST-Yangtse has also aided in the beau­ti­fi­ca­tion of Trashiyangtse Dzongkhag. The club de­signed por­traits of His Majesty The King and The Great Fourth and the Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness wheel on the wall of Trashiyangtse school, took ini­tia­tive to paint the rocks of Yangtse town as part of com­mu­nity aes­thet­ics, vol­un­teered to paint the town monastery, did mass clean­ing at Chorten Kora and rock paint­ing at Chumdu with the theme, “Aware­ness on the preser­va­tion of but­ter­flies.”

So that the club can sus­tain it­self, fu­ture plans in­clude col­lect­ing an an­nual mem­ber­ship fee of Nu 500 per stu­dent who are be­low 18 and Nu 1,500 from the adult mem­bers while mem­ber­ship will be free for dropouts and des­ti­tute stu­dents.

Mean­while, Jigme Dorji said that that mem­ber­ship fee en­cour­ages a sense of own­er­ship in the club so that mem­bers can avail the club fa­cil­i­ties re­spon­si­bly.

Other plans in­cude ex­pand­ing the club net­work to other dzongkhags es­pe­cially fo­cus­ing on the youth of the six east­ern dzongkhags.

“We want to set up li­brary rooms and a mini ICT cen­ter within our own space,” said the founder, “With such fa­cil­i­ties, learn­ers can eas­ily ac­cess in­for­ma­tion to up­grade their skills and pro­fes­sional forte.”

Jigme Dorji’s vi­sion is to groom the in­tel­lec­tual ca­pac­ity of young art en­thu­si­asts in­fus­ing it with tra­di­tional val­ues to up­hold the rich cul­ture of the coun­try.

Trashiyangtse Dzongkhag is an eth­ni­cally and cul­tur­ally di­verse area, which shares its in­ter­nal bor­der with China and In­dia. Trashiyangtse is one of the new­est dis­tricts in Bhutan and is known for its wealth of nat­u­ral, his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural re­sources. Most of its in­hab­i­tants are farm­ers.

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