EMPATHY thru ART was an initiative by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR, MEA, Govt. of India) that called upon art and craft enthusiasts worldwide to express their support for COVID-19 warriors. Participants were encouraged to submit their artwork, including paper, canvas, oil, watercolors, digital art, and folk art, to showcase their solidarity with the frontline workers. Professional and amateur artists and artisans eagerly participated and submitted their works online by the deadline of May 1, 2020. Heart for Art extends its gratitude to Namrata Kumar DDG, ICCR, for the opportunity to contribute to this remarkable initiative.

Vijay Joshi and Vivek Joshi, a talented brother duo of Phad painters from Shahpura, Rajasthan, used their art to raise awareness about the coronavirus in India. With a rich tradition spanning over 700 years, Phad paintings are based on the songs of legendary figures like Pabuji and Devnarayan, sung by Bhopa singers. These vibrant paintings are accompanied by an oral tradition of storytelling. The canvas used for Phad paintings is prepared by soaking and starching hand-woven cloth, followed by the meticulous drawing of the narrative by the Phad painter. Natural colors extracted from stones, flowers, and herbs are used to fill in the figures, which are characterized by rounded forms and traditional attire.

The artworks by talented folk artists, including Suman and Rupsona Chitrakar, Rakhi Salunke, Krishna Kumar Jha, Pramod Kumar, Padma Dhanalakota, and Vivek Joshi, were showcased in the art competition organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) as part of their initiative called EMPATHY thru ART. The winners’ artworks can be viewed on the portal: https://iccr4art.com/.