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Folk Arts Rajasthan (FAR), based in the United States, partners with Lok Kala Sagar Sansthan (LKSS) a community folk arts society based in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan India. Together our US based Non-Profit and LKSS, the Indian Non-Governmental Organization, are committed to eradicating illiteracy, fostering community development, and celebrating cultural understanding through preservation of the Merasi traditional artistic legacy.
In their remote desert region of Jaisalmer District, members of LKSS are born being called Manganiyar. From birth, they are considered untouchable beggars and will bear this social stigmatism their entire lives. Daily harassment and intense marginalization remove all opportunity. The Merasi, as they have chosen to call themselves, have held the role of oral genealogists, storytellers, and musicians for upper caste communities in the same geographic area for more than 37 generations.
- Preserve, promote, and exhibit traditional Rajasthani music, arts, and culture
- Provide opportunities for education and empowerment for upcoming generations
- International outreach through cultural exchange of music, dance, and crafts
Current Projects Education
- Merasi School and Music Merasi are twin educational initiatives weaving a new world of options for Merasi children
- Seven Scholarship students are attending private school, then join their peers at Merasi School & Music Merasi
Fair Trade Folk Arts
- Community women crafting traditional Rajasthani folk art from recycled local materials are preserving their local culture and creating economic opportunity for themselves
- Support them by visiting:
Earth and State: Media, PA
American Folk Art Museum: New York, NY
FAR recycled treasures Up From the Dust
Peaceable Kingdom: Providence, RI
Side Show in the American Visionary Art Museum: Baltimore, MD
Artists Stepping Forward
- The Merasi Counting Book featuring the art of Indra Banu
- American Visionary Art Museum’s All Faiths Beautiful exhibit featured the work of LKSS Director Sarwar Khan (http://www.avam.org/exhibitions/index.html)
- Keystone Bank Window Installation (Media, PA) featured the paintings of Sarwar Khan and Pinku Nath plus traditional fair trade crafts
- Red Mill Gallery at Vermont Studio Center featured the paintings of Indra Banu and Sarwar Khan
- The Johnson Gallery at Glen Urquhart School featured traditional folk craft fair trade items from LKSS in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
- Daughters of India by Stephen Huyler featuring Indra Banu; Painting Beyond the Margins
Creating Employment Opportunities
- Onsite staffing and teaching jobs at Lok Kala Sagar Sansthan (LKSS) and Merasi School & Music Merasi classes
- Music and dance programs in India and internationally
International Outreach and Cultural Exchange
- 2004-2009: FAR and LKSS are supporting the collaborations of visiting professional musicians, academics, photographers, writers and filmmakers with the endangered Merasi Culture in Jaisalmer, India
- The Hearts With Hope Tours are crucial in building a peaceful bridge while fostering the understanding of American students and audiences about the Merasi Legacy.
In turn, The Merasi community buoyed by the support, dignity, and respect received from American audiences are determined that their children will offer the same ancient art to international audiences for generations to come
- The Hearts with Hope Tour:
2008: Building off the success of the first tour, LKSS/FAR brought the troupe MERASI to the United States for a two and a half month 55 venue cultural exchange tour with performances at The Kennedy Center, St. John the Divine Cathedral, American Visionary Art Museum, James Cohan Gallery, plus 25 public and private schools
2005: LKSS/FAR brought the troupe Rangeela to the United States for a two-month 53 venue cultural exchange tour with performances at The Smithsonian, The Portland Museum of Art, and over 35 public and private schools
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