Age is just a number. 80-year-old Judhaiya Bai Baiga, a resident of Lorha village in Madhya Pradesh, is living proof of the same.
Baiga’s painting recently traveled from a small village to an exhibition in Milan (Italy) and was sold instantly. But, this isn’t the first time that Baiga’s art has traveled to the exhibitions abroad.
While recently talking to TBI, she shared her excitement on getting international recognition:
“It has not changed my life as such. But yes, a change can be seen as more and more women, including my daughter-in-law are taking an interest in painting. Some of these women always wanted to paint but did not have avenues back then.”
Baiga’s tribal community is heavily dependent on forest resources for their livelihood and some engage in menial jobs. Sadly no development, education or jobs have reached the interiors of the region.
Though Baiga lost her husband at 40, she refused to give up on life.
As Baiga belongs to the community that not only loves to dress in bright colorful clothes but also believes in hard work, it was probably the reason why at the age of 70, when most people retire and relax, Baiga took up painting.
While sharing how she finds solace in painting, Baiga shared with TBI:
“Painting takes me to another world where I am as free as a bird. When I learnt about a teacher who is willing to teach for free in our village, I decided to give painting a try, something I was never interested in. Yet, on the very first day, I found my passion.”
She joined Ashish Swami, a well-known art teacher and an alumnus of Shantiniketan, West Bengal.
It was about a decade ago, Swami opened a studio in a small room in this village. He not only teaches painting for free but also helps them get them good monetary value through the deals.
Sharing how his studio is helping in preventing local cultures and traditions from becoming extinct, Swami shared:
“We have such rich cultures across India that are on the verge of dying. Painting is an effective means to save them. By articulating the local practices or customs in paintings, we can also tell other people about local traditions.”
Swami further shares why he particularly enjoys teaching people from Lorha village:
“Even if they draw something as basic as a tree, their outlook is so different from the rest. They manage to capture innocence in wild animals and serenity in clouds. Their definition of a perfect nature lies in the harmony or co-existence between trees, birds, animals, water bodies and humans.”
What makes Baiga’s story even more inspiring is the fact that it wasn’t the money that is not the motivating factor behind her passion. It is actually the desire to put her village on the global map and keeping traditions alive.
At IFORHER, we are celebrating Baiga and her courage to show that it’s never too late to live your dream!