Dhanaraj Keezhara Approaches Art As Social Expression

Dhanaraj Keezhara is a visual media teacher at Christel House India in Bangalore. Dhanaraj, who is also an accomplished artist in his own right, believes his expertise has been developed less by formal artistic training than by his own hard work and dedication to the discipline. He prides himself on being self-taught and well trained through his personal engagements with art, society and the politics of his time. This approach has helped him to develop a unique style of artistic creativity.

Dhanaraj Keezhara

Christel House India, one of five schools of its kind internationally, has been serving the children of Bangalore since 2001. The Christel House organization seeks to “break the cycle of poverty” and instill the core values of respect, responsibility, independence, and integrity in its students. The international organization was developed through the vision and giving spirit of Ms. Christel DeHaan, who invested her private fortune into providing opportunities for children in underserved communities. In each of its learning centers, Christel House provides students with health care, uniforms, and nutritious meals, in addition to quality education. Dhanaraj has been a part of the organization since 2001 and has been an integral part of the holistic educational opportunities extended to students of Christel House India, Bangalore.

Dhanaraj Keezhara & His Class

Dhanaraj’s personal vision and philosophy of art are combined in his teaching to develop an alternative visual-artistic space, where creative students can engage in and express their own visual experiences. He explains, “Finding children’s creative blend and embodied aesthetic imagination may be a difficult task; however, if you can invest some time in that, then you learn the best fusion and rhythm of art and its encounter with the real and imaginative domains of the society.”

Dhanaraj’s personal work is a continuous engagement with art, emerging from the negotiations of people within their society and environment. Fired by a belief in art’s ability to heal and renew a world torn asunder by violence and strife, Dhanaraj has continuously involved himself in community initiatives and education. From his student days at the College of Fine Arts in Kannur, through his ten-year stint at various NGOs, and his present work at Christel House India, art has always been a means for him to connect and share his emotions and experiences with others.

Dhanaraj Keezhara & His Family

Adding to his various experiences, Dhanaraj has lived and worked with several indigenous communities in India, including the tribal communities of Wayanad in Kerala, the Lambani community of Bidar (bordering Karnataka and Maharashtra), as well as the Narmada valley community during the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmada Campaign). These unique experiences and dialogues continue to enrich his work. He has also presented many successful art exhibitions in Bangalore, including Truth From The Margins (2009), Mind Raining (2010), and stirring silence (2010)…

When speaking of students he has worked with, Dhanaraj says, “They have the best artistic skills.”

Dhanaraj participated, along with some of these students, at the Adobe Youth Voices Summits held at Stanford University (2009) and Santa Clara University (2011). “The students’ success in attending these summits proves that, given the right education and guidance, students from disadvantaged families can do as well as children from privileged backgrounds.”

He adds, “Modern technologies, and the aims of Adobe Youth Voices curriculum, multiply the imaginative realms of school kids and also facilitate a technical push to the creative minds; where technology meets the creative mind, a perfect symphony of modern art is achieved: Create With Purpose.”

Dhanaraj Keezhara & Students Filming

Dhanaraj encourages his students to use all possible technologies to examine multiple fields of modern visual art, including the traditional pencil, paints and paper, photography, animation, and film making and editing. Adobe Youth Voices has brought together all of these elements in the project curriculum. “Considering my students,” says Dhanaraj, “this curricula works with their ‘mind’s eye’ which was once completely marginalized.”

Dhanaraj is also serving as a judge in the Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards. Says Dhanaraj of his intentions in this role, “Being a judge of this programme, my aim is not only evaluate the merits of technical skill but also to understand how technologies are challenging students to negotiate with the various social and political questions associated with society. I believe it is important to observe how young minds are responding to the world and events around them. As a visual media teacher and creative practitioner, I can say that new technologies like Adobe Youth Voices have created a space for young minds to express their own concerns and worldviews, both aesthetically and socially.”

Comments

  1. Cristina Bosio Ferrer

    This is a very clear presentation that comprises a true teacher of Art.
    I am proud to have met him at AYV Summit 09: understood about visual language and how they guide their students is really rewarding.
    I would like to say thanks to Adobe Youth Voices for this project and especially to Professor Dan for sharing his experience.
    We are still guiding youth in this wonderful world of Arts and despite the fact that we like and enjoy what we do; there is a great effort to help this project to continue working.

  2. Pradeep

    Moving along with the tablets & smartphone era, creating a curriculum with this new dimensional approach around the possible technologies is no wonder going to be a great success with the generations to come. Capturing the kids attention and admiration and nurturing them in these areas will work wonders…. great artist, great teacher and a great human being – that’s Dhanaraj.

  3. Muthukumar Krishnamurthy

    Great going Dear Dhanaraj!!!

    I SALUTE YOUR SPIRIT AND PASSION TOWARDS YOUR VOCATION.

  4. sathyanarayan

    Great write up. That is Dhanraj. Very energetic, very enthusiastic and committed to his work.
    Keep up the good work Dhanraj.
    All the best!!

    SATHYA

  5. Sajeesh

    What makes Mr. Dhanaraj Keezhara different from us is just his craze towards his hobby/art. I am sure with his simple way of living and great craze towards art he is really enjoying his life!!!! I wish him all the best.

  6. Anitha

    Dear Friend ….

    Again & Again i wanna say U r a great & Ideal Teacher …. and i always liking your working way …
    You are very creative and passionate …… ‘PAINTING’ ……
    All the best for everything ….:)

  7. Sagaya Shanthy

    I am really impressed!!!. Anyone who creates is GOD. And to instill creativity in others … really amazing. I really feel that children who are inclined to art and culture are more balanced in their lives. Congrats on your good work. I am proud to be accquainted with you. Wish you all the very best in your endeavours.

  8. pascale bozzi

    Great work! Keep going. I enjoy following the progress of the children and the new artworks on Facebook!

  9. nirmala james

    congra my friend …wish you all the best .May God bless you …

  10. Jennifer Bruno Antony

    Hi All,

    I am really glad to write for u guys…U people are really working wonders…Grt to have been associated wit u guys…even if it was a few years ago.God bless the gud work u are involved into.Al u people hav grt heights to go.Gud luk and keep the grt work goin on

  11. Raghu

    Mere teaching a subject will not make a good teacher. He should touch the heart and soul of the subject. I appreciate the hard work & dedication of Dhanraj and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.

  12. chris

    Dhanaraj,

    This is wonderful. You should be so proud! Our students are so blessed to have such a talented, passionate and dedicated teacher!

  13. Pradeep Kumar P.S.

    Balanced writing. I feel the space for art in life should have been mentioned first. Dhanaraj’s own personal vision needed some elaboration. The kind of interactions Dhanaraj and his students do with the outside word also required detailing. Still, it is a good piece. Quite unlike the self-glorification works which float around in abundance.

  14. Sarah

    So proud to have such a great colleague to work with! This is an amazing opportunity to highlight your talents and contribute to this great project. All the best, am sure it will be an amazing experience :)

  15. Monica Sharma

    WOW Dhanaraj! You are a truly wealthy man. I am always inspired by the way you think. Wish you more energy and more work.

  16. girish nair

    May Ur future always shine…really proud of u for it wish u all the best

  17. sarah

    congratulations , Dhanaraj.
    Your multi talents, your zest for life combined with your exposure and experience in many areas which very few young people can achieve have given your art a special quality. May this become a blessing to the children you teach and your colleagues and friends who interact with you. Wish you more and more success.

  18. Preeth

    A very noble act indeed. Speaks volumes of Dhanraj’s elevated character.

  19. Suslov

    Your students are very very lucky to have a GREAT TEACHER LIKE YOU.

    Let your passion take you to higher achievements….

    All the Best…

  20. usha

    Dhanaraj

    Your passion for creativity is infectious. We miss that here , Children here remember you in summer.

  21. Usha punathil

    The light you throw to hearts of the children will remain for generations..really REMARKABLE..Congrats.

  22. Animesh

    Wish his initiatives are emulated and we are able to develop more sensitive, creative and open minded humans. In this environment of rote learning, technologies have often exacerbated the process of putting another brick in the wall. Wish more people think like Dhanaraj!

  23. Nathan C

    What to say about Dhanaraj?! A passionate and highly creative individual. A caring friend. An inspiring educator…the list goes on!
    Having known and worked with Dhanaraj over the past four years, I have seen him continually working on various visual media projects- from unique paintings; editing movies; organising workshops and exhibitions; to snapping amazing photographs.
    The paintbrush, pencil and camera are apart of Dhanara’s jdaily repertoire. His enthusiasm as family man; an artist and a longstanding educator to the students of Christel House India (since its inception), are applaudable!
    May this blog share your work and achievements across the globe, Sir!

    Congratulations!

    Best wishes,
    Nathan.

  24. Frannie Richards

    I have been a constant observer of Christel House for years and I never cease to be amazed at the effectiveness of its programs and the accomplishments of its students. Sometimes I request extra copies of its impressive annual reports to send to others who might wish to donate to this extraordinary cause.

  25. gr kaviyoor

    good efforts keep it up may almighty bless you in coming future too

  26. Jasheep

    A person with divine and vibrant artistic skills and a Big Brother(Big B) with lots of love.

    Wish you all the best!

  27. Anoop

    A highly talented and humble ‘Artist’, friend, brother… I know Dhanaraj for last 20 years. Proud of you, Dhanaraj. Your commitment to the society and your dedication and passion to the art is simply commendable.Wishing you all the very best and I am pretty sure that there are much more greater things for you in the offing.

  28. Radha Gomaty

    Well done, Dhanaraj!…and doing well too!
    Keep it up!

  29. SOWGATH

    a well written blog about a great artist, a humble human and a great motivator.. having known him for the past so many years.. feeling proud to say .. i know Dhanraj .. and the human side of him.. feeling proud to say.. he is from my small village.. and great to know the simple villager in him still lives on in his heart inspiring his students to achieve great things.. feeling good reading all those comments.. some day hope to visit The Christel House and see all the wonder he has created.. best of luck bro.. ..

  30. Shiva Sagar

    “Life is a glass given to us to fill…..”.
    YES!!!! I am getting a chance to fill this glass with milestones…
    I thank my ADOBE, Christel House and specially my EDUCATOR.(Dhanraj)
    I had the best of the experiences that will remain with me till last breath. I thank the people concerned.
    All the best to my juniors .

  31. AJINKYA ATMARAM PATIL

    hi,
    well, i have been teaching for 10 yrs now. i am writing this, because i have a slight glance of how challenging it is to conduct such workshops. and by looking at your contribution, i really feel thrilled and proud about your concern. it would be really great to meet you personally and witness your cause. pls feel free to ask for anything little i could do.
    regards- ajinkya atmaram patil

  32. Carlie Powell

    I hav been frds for a long time within social media and as a fellow artist, I hav gained respect for Dhanaraj’s conviction. Often efforts do not transcend beyond personal artistic achievement in such as a compassion way. A duty I hav come to perceive as being so much a part of our convo: always one of well being and that of the children of Christel House.I hav always liked what Dhanaraj Keezhara is doing, but mostly what he continues to do.

  33. ESTHER PILLAI

    My dear Dhanraj, thank you so much for yours and Nisha’s efforts to keep in touch with me.
    I think of you very often indeed, and remember the passion and dedication with which you worked; above all your enthusiasm which you managed to imbue your students with, so that they in turn were able toreflect it in their work. God bless, and every good wish for your future endeavours. Affly, Esther

  34. Hareeraja

    We may have a lot of knowledge but if we dont know how to teach, it’s big waste. Not all can teach and only few have the talent to teach but only special one can teach and create talents. You are one of them. Hats off to you. Keep up your good work.

  35. Dr. Tripti Singh

    Nice to see your work, your students and your family!

  36. Cornelia Platon

    Congratulations for your wonderful work and for your dedication! :)
    Nelly

  37. veena mohanan

    no words to tell abt him…just proud to b his niece!!!!