A design house and lifestyle brand that curate artwork of the Deaf Artists
“The idea behind Atulyakala is to ensure there are no biases and discrimination when it comes to the creative and designing industry of India. When I get to meet people form the deaf and mute community, who have graduations and masters in arts, designing and many different creative fields, what I found problematic was that there are merely any jobs for them. The reason behind it was basically that deaf use sign language and that becomes a barrier.” says Smriti Nagpal, founder of Atulyakala.
About the Founder, Smriti Nagpal
Smriti Nagpal started Atulyakala with an idea of giving a platform to the deaf artist. She tells us that she belongs to a family where two of her siblings are hearing impaired. And during that time, neither of her parents or the society were very aware of the sign language. That was in 1990 and that was when she became a bridge between her siblings and her parents by learning sign and promoting sign language. Further, at the age of 16, Smriti started to work as a sign language interpreter with the National Association of the Deaf and later joined Doordarshan. Smriti’s aim is to empower the deaf community, especially the deaf artist community and increase the inclusion and interaction of deaf with society.
Talking about what all things people at Atulyakala makes, Smriti tells us that “Atulyakala started as a designing house and later, it became a lifestyle brand fully run by deaf Artists. We create a lot of hippie products, stationary, bags, frames, journals, mugs, wallets and so on. Apart from that, we do events, we have a lot of stores tie-up pan India where the deaf people are the representatives and presenter who sell all the products. We are also present online, we are very active on our social media and have a website too. So, these are the places where we get sales and revenue. The second stream of Atulayakala is to create awareness about sign language. Here we do a lot of workshops, events, online sessions, collaborations and other things that can basically put sign language out at the table for everybody to see.”
Very recently, they did a campaign with Radio City, where they talked about the Signs of Happiness with RJ Divya for fifteen days in September; September being the month of Deaf and Sign Language.
If you live in Delhi you can find a store of Atulyakala in Oxford Bookstore, CP and Starling Mall, Noida, looked after by Amit Vardhan, a deaf sketch artist.
Closing the conversation, Smriti said “Sign language is a language which is very beautiful and natural. Imagine you could put all your feelings without uttering a word so it is just beautiful. I had a childhood where I and my sister are talking and talking, and my mother couldn’t get a clue of what we were saying and it was fun at times. When I was younger, I used to tell my friends about a few signs and we used to talk between exams and cheat answers at the time, and it was fun but if we see the larger picture, it is just language which is making all that difference. In a country with 18 Million people who are deaf use signs only to communicate, despite such a huge number of users, we are still not able to give it the recognition it deserves which is absolutely disappointing in itself. We are putting our efforts in whichever way possible but, a mass recognition is what is required.”
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