Vista • Summer 2010 • Volume 15 • Number 1
Empowering Women Through Art
Khushbu Mishra ’11 | Davis Peace Prize Recipient
Khushbu Mishra’s home in the southern Nepalese village of Halkhori may be continents away, but it’s never far from her heart. As a recipient of the prestigious 2010 Davis Projects for Peace award, Mishra will return there this summer to carry out her project, “Painting a Peaceful Present.”
Mishra’s Project for Peace aims to help women in her village and the surrounding area preserve, develop, and market their unique folk art. Passed from mother to daughter, their craft traditionally involves painting the exterior walls of houses with colorful, stylized depictions of family and village scenes. The paint, made from locally produced pigments, washes away in the rainy season, leaving the walls a blank slate to be decorated afresh each year.
An economics and math major, Mishra plans to open an art institute in Halkhori and bring in professional artists to teach the women how to apply their technique to paper and canvas. She will then connect them with businesses and organizations that can help them market their art at visitors’ centers in Kathmandu and other cities.
Mishra’s goals for “Painting a Peaceful Present” are ambitious. By training the women to market their art, she hopes “to help them achieve economic power that will strengthen their social position and raise their families’ standard of living.” She also hopes that by spreading the lively culture, her project can help to diffuse the longstanding tensions between Nepal’s northern mountain people and the often-oppressed people of the southern plains. Summer can’t come soon enough for Mishra.
“This is the first time in years that I will be spending three months at home, and it is especially exciting that I will be working on my first independent project that aims for the betterment of my community,” she said. “I want to work for nonprofit organizations in the future, so this is my first step toward career building.”
Mount Holyoke College • Vista