I have vivid memories of being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” At the time, I thought that “doctor, engineer or teacher” were the only acceptable answers, because those were what everyone around me echoed. I was led to believe that a career in science or business was the only way to be successful or to contribute to society. I was not the only one to be taught this message, but I was wrong in thinking that everyone around me held these aspirations. Despite growing up in this same environment, I now present to you a remarkable person bringing Imagination into systems of rote learning.
Sneha Shresta is a graffiti artist and social innovator. Sneha was recently awarded the World Learning Advancing Leaders Fellowship to establish the first Nepal Children’s Art Museum (NCAM). Here, the children participate in workshops, public murals, and art education; opportunities that are not offered by the public school system. Through NCAM, art has become more accessible to hundreds of children in Nepal. In addition to this, Sneha has also established a library for a public school in Kathmandu, Nepal and published three bilingual children’s books. Her list of accomplishments goes on. She worked as a Mentoring Artist and Education Coordinator at Arts for Humanity in Boston. She started MO:MO Nation, a t-shirt enterprise that brings together Nepalis living abroad through their love for momos (a popular Nepali dumpling dish). She has collaborated with several artists and projects to colour the streets of Kathmandu, San Francisco, Boston, Bali and Istanbul. Her involvement in Kolor Kathmandu, a local initiative started with a vision to turn streets of Kathmandu into open art gallery, in particular is a welcome surprise in the winding streets of the city. She has a unique ability to engage people in their creative explorations. Through her art and enterprise, Sneha has accomplished dual ambitions. She has both introduced the world to Nepal, and strengthened the ties between Nepalis and their own culture.
Sneha Shrestha continues to forge new paths. Her graffiti uniquely integrates the Nepali language, and has been showcased in the galleries and on the walls of several cities. She has received numerous national and international awards. And this year she is TNFF’s guest artist!
TNFF started 2014 marketing campaign with an intent to portray Nepal beyond its mountains and temples in this year’s design. And it found the artist exactly what it was looking for in Sneha Shrestha. The image of progressive and modern Nepal is reflected in Sneha’s signature style of nepaligraphiti (=nepali+calligraphy+graffiti). In her own words, “The graphic is designed with a 'hip' film festival in mind. What is Nepali about this [graphic] is the text that says TNFF in big bold Nepali letters which at first is not legible even to the Nepali eye but the words start coming together after some looking.”
“Art is a tickle of imagination,” Sneha chimes. She is creating waves with Imagination for positive social change. And TNFF is one of the proud beneficiaries.
By Suyesha Sthapit