Art Talk at Daniel High School, Madison (Connecticut, USA)

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In late March, Daniel Hand High School was pleased to host internationally acclaimed Nepalese artist and philanthropist, Ragini Upadhayay Grela. She gave two presentations to the student body during her visit to Daniel Hand. She spoke with students about the transformative power of art and the power of individuals to effect the change they wish to see in the world. The presentation was a window into another culture, offering students an alternate perspective while affirming the universality of our hopes for the future.  

Ragini is the first female chancellor of Art in Nepal. Her dream-like images, infused with Nepali and western symbolism, address socio-political themes including women’s rights and environmental concerns. 

Ragini’s visit to Hand was made possible by Hand teacher Suzanne Gaskell who received a grant from Fund for Teachers to work with a traditional and contemporary artist in Nepal to inform curriculum for a course that would focus on the role of arts in peacebuilding. Gaskell connected with Ragini through a global art initiative, the Breathing Project, which is designed to honor the experiences of healthcare and essential workers who have risked their lives to help others. Ragini’s visit to Hand was part of her first trip to the United States.

After the presentation students were invited to write a message of love, hope, and peace on colored ribbons that will be displayed alongside images of Nepal and reproductions of Ragini’s work. The Hand community also collected money to donate to the Shivata Love Foundation. Ragini created the Shivata Love Foundation in memory of her teenage daughter who succumbed to meningitis in 2016. The foundation promotes education by awarding scholarships and raises awareness about meningitis which remains a major killer in poor countries such as Nepal. It also aims at women’s empowerment and promotes self fulfillment through art.  

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