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Maqaam Foundation’s Art Exhibit: A Journey of Inclusion and Empowerment

In an enlightening showcase of inclusivity and artistic expression, the Maqaam Foundation has opened its doors to an art exhibition at the State Art Gallery of Art in Hyderabad, focused on embracing artists from all walks of life, including the differently-abled. This three-day cultural event, curated by the esteemed Delhi-based artist Niyaz Hussain, presents an impressive curation of 50 artworks by 35 diverse artists from across India. The age of the participating artists spans a striking range from seven to the seasoned age of sixty-plus, displaying a rich spectrum of life experiences through their art.

Curator Niyaz Hussain, who has navigated the challenges of locomotor disabilities himself, has poured his passion and understanding into this exhibition. It stands as a testament to his dedication to making art accessible to all. With a range of senior and emerging artists, the exhibition does not only shine a light on the artistic creations but also strives to break the barriers encountered by the visually-impaired. In a pioneering move, each artwork is accompanied by detailed audio descriptions, bringing the visuals to life through words for those who cannot see them. Moreover, a touch of ingenuity is added with certain paintings incorporating tactile elements as an invitation for a hands-on experience.

The commitment to accessibility is further exemplified by the collaboration with Spacefelt, an assistive tech startup based in Hyderabad. They are the accessibility partners for the exhibition, whose involvement has been crucial in implementing the multi-sensory features. This initiative marks the first instance of curator Niyaz Hussain’s venture outside of Delhi, heralding a significant step towards nationwide inclusivity in the arts.

Niyaz Hussain’s collaborative relationship with art has roots in his personal struggle and his days growing up in the slums of Delhi. Confronted by his own disabilities, Niyaz faced numerous obstacles on his journey to become an artist. It was this personal struggle that led to the inception of the Maqaam Foundation, driven by his unwavering goal to extend support, nourishment, and a platform for budding artists, particularly those emerging from underprivileged backgrounds.

Growing up with a mother who empowered him by treating him no differently despite his battle with polio, Niyaz developed a resilience that transcended his condition. His mother’s refusal to exempt him from household duties or the necessity of selling vegetables for income instilled a strength in him that carried through to his adulthood. When formal education ended, Niyaz pursued his passion for art, only to be met with the harsh realities of the practical difficulties his disability entailed, such as the inability to work on large canvases or to stand for extended periods while crafting landscapes.

The driving philosophy of the Maqaam Foundation extends beyond nurturing talent. Niyaz emphasizes the transformative potential of art as a unifier and advocates for an empathetic approach to disabilities, moving away from the traditional lens of charity. This resonates deeply through the inclusive exhibition at the State Art Gallery of Art, which shall conclude on April 23.

The Maqaam Foundation’s art exhibition is more than just a display of creative works—it is a vibrant, embracing arena where art and empathy intersect, unveiling the boundless possibilities that emerge when we view disabilities through a lens of understanding and inclusion.