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The coming-of-age tale of a group of girls from St Teresa’s who made graffiti art become the talk of the town

When the word 'graffiti' was introduced in 2016, students of St Teresa's College did not know what it was. As is their wont, they took to Google and a new domain, rather a new world, opened before them. What followed was an incredible turn of events, but the journey was dotted with fear and trepidation. Never the ones to give up, Teresians rose up to the challenge and had the walls splattered with colour, themes and ideas.  Believe it or not, by 2019, the bunch has turned the initiative into a movement of sorts and it’s aptly named Chayam.

chaayam_poster

Certainly, it was not smooth sailing. Since the medium itself was new, the girls did not know how to go about it and it was literally a leap of faith. United by their passion for art and not wanting to let go of what was to be the “next big opportunity”, the initial bunch of girls threw their hats into the ring. It was an inter-batch competition where degree students rubbed shoulders with postgraduates.  A theme (Cultural Fiesta) was given, and they had three days to paint the allotted wall space.

Chayam is a group of outstandingly talented girls. When our college was invited to do a graffiti on the walls of Port Trust, they came up with different concepts. Their dedication and passion are laudable.

-Preethi (Professor)

I have known them for the last three years.They have participated in multiple fests and competitions and won many prizes. They have beautifully painted one of our walls in the dept as a memento.

-Maya (Professor)

Armed with spray cans, paints and brush, they began a journey which was to become revolutionary. While other teams focused on Kerala and its culture, they wanted to add bits from every corner of the world. Around 30 elements, representing something from each part of the world, were incorporated.

Sandra, who played a key role in spearheading the event, said: "We tried to frame every culture in one picture. The yellow background was used to make it bright and ‘Mandala’ designs were used at the bottom left, which alone took 36 hours. The dramatic element of fairy was introduced to show that cultures consist of some magic and though cultures might vary from one place to another, they have a common origin."

But the execution was far from perfect, and they themselves were disappointed.  But unquestionably,  the new art form had them glued and excited, and they began experimenting.  When the college organised a 'spot painting event', the girls set the wall on fire with a stunning art work in just 11 minutes flat.

New members were introduced and thus began the saga of Chaayam, a team that would be together for the remaining two years of college and would go on to win the Graffiti  competition every year. Slowly, Chayam became the talk of the town, thanks to their vibrant colours and startling themes. Impressed, many have approached them to turn their walls around, but time constraint forced them to reject may offers.

chaayamArts
chaayamArts

WHARF GATE WALLS

The defining moment came when they were asked to paint the Wharf Gate of Cochin Port Trust where they were asked to showcase the culture of Kerala and India, besides spreading the message of cleanliness. And the girls came out with flying colours.

The girls say they are indebted to Preethy (professor) for “being the best mentor” they could ever have, Ms Teresa Joshy, the chairperson, and Renu Menon Devda, general secretary. Others involved in the project are: Navina Francis, Sandra Anilkumar, Athira Menon, Reshma Elizabeth, Atheena Shaju, Hannah Binson, Meera Martin, Arancia Mendez, Bisini P Jiju, Anna Sandwana.

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