Every year in the remote village of Suyata, in one of India’s poorest states of Bihar, the Niranyana Community School organizes a Mural Art Festival. Artists from India and Japan spend three weeks in the village, using the walls of the school building as a canvas. In the process, the artists interact with the children and conduct workshops for them. The initiative is carried out to help solve the various problems that characterize villages in India, including issues of poverty, education and employment, through cultural and artistic exchange.
It all started in 2006 when fifty students from Tokyo Gakugei University donated money to an NGO in India to build a new Niranyana school building in Bihar. The school was built and became the first educational institution in the region. Funded by occasional overseas donations, the school came into existence through the hard work of teachers and volunteers, and by 2010 had enrolled approximately 400 students, from kindergarten through 7th grade.
Realizing how important support is, the school administration decided to hold an art festival that will help to raise awareness of the problems of villagers and children in Bihar. It was proposed to use the white walls of the school as a canvas.
One of the artists who participated in the festival three years in a row was Yuusuke Asai. Inspired by traditional Indian wall paintings, Asai covered all the walls and ceiling of the classroom with clay paintings. Working with children, he collected soils from various places in the village and mixed them with water, using them as paint. Asai also invited the children to leave their handprint on the wall as a reminder for the future.
After the festival was over, Asai addressed the children once more. This time to help wash the paintings out of the dirt, returning the material back to the soil. Through this process, Asai demonstrated to the children the meaning of life as a continuous cycle.