Meet this inspirational woman, who quit her job at IBM to revive and promote Madhubani art from Bihar and empower its female artists. Ihitashri Shandilya was on maternity leave when the idea struck her. She was at her grand mom’s house figuring out life with her baby but she had no idea that it would lead to the birth of yet another venture.

In Search of a Bigger Canvas

Her grand mother’s – had been working with women in Madhubani art for years but were strapped for a sustainable plan. Since childhood, Ihita participated in various social events at SEWA Mithila, the first NGO in Madhubani founded by her grand mother, Mrs Gauri Mishra to promote Madhubani Paintings at a global level & socio-economically empower the rural women of Madhubani in the process. But once her grand mom had retired the work had paused. It occurred to Ihita that in a world where technology is playing a big role, just how could art from Bihar not have a bigger canvas. “When I met some of the artists who used to work with my grand mom, I realised they had very little funds despite their enormous talent. I realised there was a need to do something for these women and that’s when the idea was born.”

“I realised there was a need to do something for these women and that’s when the idea was born.”

Hear this. A small girl not yet in her teens, started painting and through the help of the funds she received for painting, she put her young brother to school. Another woman in the heart of Bihar who had lost her husband, used paintings as a way to her livelihood.
“We have a woman artist who is yet to come out of the trauma of the loss of her son. But she is an artist now with us.”

She says “the idea was to make this sustainable. Agricultural income in Bihar is dwindling due to floods, people need to depend on secondary incomes. Women and daughters have been able to sustain their families through the income they get from art.” Ihita used to work at IBM in the morning and set up a gallery which she attended to in the evening. The gallery was set up to promote artists and Ihita spent all her time investing energies in explaining to people why art like this needed support. “Soon I realised I needed to pay full attention to this and I quit my job.” She then looked at the government and other bodies to seek growth. “We were initially a B2C model and then we became B2B.” They have two brands and they are expanding those in the international markets.

Picture Credit: http://worldofmadhubani.in

Madhubani art

Madhubani art comes from the name of the district of Madhubani which is in Bihar. Some say Madhubani is the centre of the territory once known as Mithila. Ihita says her aim is to take art to the world in a way they know the stories of the women behind it. Which is why in their packaging as well, they carry the stories of the artists.
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