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Adarsh Alphons, Founder and Executive Director of ProjectArt Joins Denver Frederick

We have found a new home! Kindly visit this link in our new website here: https://www.denver-frederick.com/2017/08/07/adarsh-alphons-founder-and-executive-director-of-projectart-joins-denver-frederick/

 

The following is a conversation between Adarsh Alphons, Founder and Executive Director of ProjectArt and Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.

Adarsh

Adarsh Alphons © LinkedIn

Denver: You get to hear from the CEOs of some of the best known and well-established non-profit organizations in the country most every single week. But there are some newer and lesser known ones that are beginning to have a profound impact and are reimagining the sector in fresh and creative ways. One of those would be ProjectArt. With us this evening is their Founder and Executive Director, Adarsh Alphons. Good evening, Adarsh, and welcome to The Business of Giving.

Adarsh Alphons: Happy to be here, Denver. Thanks for having me.

Denver: Tell us about ProjectArt and the mission and goals of the organization.

Adarsh: ProjectArt seeks to unleash the creative power in libraries nationwide by putting art classes in them and offering studio space to emerging artists.

Denver: You may be the only person that I’ve had on this show, Adarsh, who was, or at least admits to, having been expelled from school at the ripe old age of 7. What in the world were you doing?

Adarsh: It began with a very unfortunate situation of– I didn’t realize that I was going to be sitting here and mentioning– telling this and sharing this with everyone else we have listening, but I was kicked out of school when I was 7 years old because I drew in every class. It’s something that I resorted to because I had a tendency to draw, and I wasn’t understanding what was going on in class. I wasn’t coping, and that drawing was my way of  finding my headspace.  And I got kicked out of school because I wasn’t doing anything but that.

I grew up in India, and this is in Delhi, and the environment was such that didn’t necessarily support arts. But I knew drawing gave me the free space and the liberty through which to find myself and to learn. You know doodling is a way of learning, they found recently.

Denver: Yes. It’s good for the brain, as a matter of fact, I hear. It actually increases blood flow to the parts of the brain which is where rewards are… and things of that sort. But you went to another school, and that is where everything changed for you.

Adarsh: Yes. So having been kicked out of the school, my parents took me to a different school where I got into trouble again. I was taken to the principal. Basically, this would be the last stop before I was kicked out again. The principal said, “Well, you know, Adarsh, look, clearly you like to draw… I have no idea what you’re drawing, but that’s okay. Also, study. Do your drawing, but also study. Draw as much as you want, but make sure you learn something too. I felt validated. I felt I had a license to be myself. Here I was… a kid who had trouble learning and coping, and now, from someone who was authoritative in the school, the principal, I had a license to be myself. My grades went up. I started to draw a lot, and I took to drawing. I took to finishing my subjects on time. Yes, I had radical improvement of grades.

There I was a few weeks later, giving this drawing in person to Nelson Mandela, who has now since passed, so the opportunity will not come again. But I also realized — and I was 10 years old at that time — I realized if I had stopped drawing, I would never have had a chance to meet someone so cool and so great. At that moment, it was just beyond fathoming what it was. It’s like meeting Martin Luther King or Gandhi. It’s insane.

Denver: Wow, so art really saved your life in many ways, and this culminated for you with a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Tell us how that came about.

Adarsh: At 7, I was kicked out of school. This was early ‘90s. In ‘94, Mandela became President of South Africa. It was a big moment globally, so I remember. And in ’95, he was visiting India, so I did these drawings of him based on television interviews and magazine covers just on a piece of paper, showed it to Dad.  Dad said, “Show it to your principal since she’s a fan of your work.” So I said, “Okay.” So I took it to Madam Simmon… that’s her name. And she said, “Oh, Adarsh, guess what! Actually, next month, Mandela is visiting Delhi, and we have some kids from school going to greet him at a hotel, and you should come along with us because we have the best athlete here; we have the best academic student. What we don’t have is someone that is a creative, and we have to show the breadth of what we bring to the next generation. Creativity is a part of it.” So I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

There I was a few weeks later, giving this drawing in person to Nelson Mandela, who has now since passed, so the opportunity will not come again. But I also realized — and I was 10 years old at that time — I realized if I had stopped drawing, I would never have had a chance to meet someone so cool and so great. At that moment, it was just beyond fathoming what it was. It’s like meeting Martin Luther King or Gandhi. It’s insane.

Denver: It’s beyond me right now, as a matter of fact, even as you’re talking about it. Well, knowing how arts can transform a life because it transformed yours — you come to America, and you take a look at the art scenes in the public schools of this country. Let’s start with New York City. How available are the arts across the system?

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