Sketching for Change
By: Mahima Chaturvedula
I often ponder the significance behind my innovative mediums. What is the meaning of what I do, and why does it matter? Questions like these, I have posed to myself for years. I always rejected the idea of prescribing a purpose for my artwork, as drawing for me, is a creative release. But in the uncertain atmosphere of politics and society, I craved to find purpose in my artistic endeavors.
As I sketched out the faint lines of his face, I came to terms with all the implications my piece would reveal. The emotions that would be evoked at every moment of contact between my pencil and sketchbook, empowered me to continue. Soon, he looked at me with his promising eyes, and I could almost hear him saying, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. truly resonates with my intentions this year.
The ‘challenge and controversy’ of today took the world by surprise. None of us expected to find ourselves fearful to go to the grocery store, or forced to accept a virtual reality through Zoom. Even then, I realized my complaints had to cease, and instead, I had to speak through my drawings. By choosing to draw King, I felt honored to connect with a struggle of the past, through which I could learn how to deal with a struggle of the present.
As the gentle strokes of my pencil formed the shape of his eyes I came to realize the perspective I needed, in order to influence change. I then began outlining his entwined fingers, while keeping in mind that our actions today will determine the fate of the world tomorrow. Belonging to the generation of youngsters that should be guiding the world to a better place, I firmly decided that it is my responsibility to prevent struggles in the future as well. I remember my drawing took a couple nights to complete, and as I stared at my work, I began to feel overwhelmed.
This was exactly what I wanted. A rush of ideas from history, motivational leaders, the current condition of the world, and the next steps to prosperity. I needed to peer into myself and truly understand why this piece held so much importance in my life and the lives of many others. It took me a few more days to gain the resolve to actually analyze what the experience meant to me. It meant that I made an impact. An impact on myself, an impact on how others connect to my artwork, an impact on how to view the world through an unbiased lens, and an impact on how to address the challenges that plague the 21st century.
Through drawing Martin Luther King Jr., I stepped into the shoes of every story of discrimination and pain. I felt inundated with all of King’s teachings, and the legend he left behind for us to cherish. I felt encouraged to find the strength within, to stand up for any injustice. In this day and age, we must gather in unity regardless of religion, appearance, nationality, race, or background. It is the need of the hour to address all the issues we are each passionate about, and I chose to focus on a man who taught us how to do so, with calmness and composure.