The Aravani Art Project is more than just transgender women painting murals on walls – it is a deeply woven dialogue of equality and experience, bringing a much-needed, warmer, inclusive perspective to sexuality and belonging
I drive into a leafy lane of Cambridge Layout, reminiscing the time spent in the same neighbourhood during my 12 years in Bengaluru. This is the first time I’m back amongst the same streets after five years, and it still feels like home. The sun is already retiring behind the buildings in the distance and the chalky white kolams in front of the gates have morphed into shapeless dusty remnants of themselves. I stop in front of artist Poornima Sukumar’s studio, a faded pink house with a slim balcony and unfussy details, like the old grey mosaic floor that we slump on for a chat. A string of fairy lights loop through nails on a wall and twinkles intermittently around us. Small pieces of bright art hang in nooks and corners asking for attention. We serendipitously choose the right spot to sit; behind Sukumar hangs an Aravani Art Project signage in soft purple.
Visibly tired after having painted a school wall in the suburban Whitefield area that morning, and in between planning the next day’s work at Chitradurga, Sukumar is still her sparkling best. I remember her well from when we met 10 years ago – bright big eyes, the sincere tone of her voice, an unassuming way of making anyone feel at home, and her tightest hugs. I’m sure that it’s this persona that has made her one of the boldest, yet warmest, voices in India for art without boundaries.
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June - July 2019