I sincerely hope everyone is doing well in these tough times. How many of us knew that the month of May is celebrated as the Better Hearing and Speech month (BHSM)?
It is a time to raise awareness about communication disorders and available treatment options that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems speaking or hearing. Well, the world needs to be as kind and empathetic as ever, right now.
So here we are, featuring Manasa RB, a Speech Language Pathologist/Audiologist from Bengaluru, who is doing her bit of making this world a more inclusive space through her art!
Your profession seems really impactful, but it is definitely not a common one. What exactly is the role of a Speech Pathologist?
I am a Speech Language Pathologist / Audiologist. Most people go “huh?” when I say this, as Speech Language Pathologist is a new term to most people, so I thought to myself, “Why don’t I start telling people what I do?” because awareness can make the world a better, more accepting place to people with disabilities.
A Speech Language Pathologist or a Speech Therapist is a qualified professional who helps people with communication and swallowing difficulties. We help people with stuttering, voice problems, swallowing problems, adults who have difficulty communicating after stroke or an injury or children who have communication difficulties due to other disabilities such as autism or dyslexia. An Audiologist helps people with hearing and balance issues.
I have always been the kid who doodles and now I turned those doodles into art with messages for inclusion and awareness.
You define your style as “Art mixed with Inclusion”. How did your journey of using art as a platform for spreading awareness begin?
My style is colourful and fun with ‘disability’ and ‘my profession’ as the central theme. It also revolves around being kind to others who are different, or so we think!
Journaling is something I started at a young age. I used to write my feelings in a diary. As I grew older, I continued to write but it reduced in frequency and then ‘Bullet Journaling’ popped up on my Pinterest feed one day, and since then I have been hooked. I draw my own setups every month, with habit trackers and step trackers. I also started adding bits and pieces about disabilities and quotes about them to add my own touch and when I started posting it, several people replied saying they didn’t know about this or they’ve never heard of it so that’s when my art style began, that is “art mixed with inclusion” in all forms, journals, watercolors and digital.
I also started digital art and its potential made me use it exclusively for spreading awareness about different disabilities, inclusivity, and my profession. My love for doing digital drawings peaked during the lockdown due to ease of access, and I am now totally in love with it.
How does your profession inspire your art?
My art is inspired from the real-life experiences my profession gives me. Most of my quotes or scenarios I draw are from what I have heard my patients say or my mentors say.
Watching people with disabilities kick ass and live life gives me the best inspiration.
Apart from the real-life experiences your profession gives you, whose work inspires you the most? Also, are you a self-taught artist or do you have a mentor?
Van Gogh, of course. But also Pixar movies! The film-making style, the characters and the art inspired me. So does their story-telling and narrative. And yes, I am a self-taught artist.
You also have a knack for miniature clay modelling, as is visible from your YouTube
channel. Can you elaborate on this hobby of yours?
I love making clay miniatures and have even attended workshops for the same. I started off
by making tiny food miniatures and then started making miniatures related to my field such
as ‘cochlea’ (an organ of hearing) and ‘brain’.
My YouTube channel focuses on animated art. I am still an amateur but I’m learning.
Your favorite art material?
Water colours - I love their versatility.
You are doing your bit in spreading awareness about an often-ignored issue. What will be your message to people who are less-aware about these things, and artists who are looking forward to using their platforms as a medium for awareness?
First off, being kind and including people can take us a long way, and if you want others who are different to be heard, you need to take the first step, whether by spreading awareness or by telling people, the first step is yours!
My art style, like I mentioned is more like a mix of disability and awareness with colours, so how do we promote it? Disabilities are everywhere, we may choose to ignore it, but the hard fact is that it exists and people with disabilities are subject to ignorance and apathy.
What can we do? We can spread awareness about disabilities and make a more inclusive society.
On this note, your advice for budding artists?
If you want to start digital art, my advice is just go for it. Don’t wait for the perfect app or the perfect pen, just do it.
Believe in yourself and don’t get demotivated looking at others who you think raw better than you. Comparison kills motivation!
Also get good bullet journals/ tab! Good materials don’t matter as much, but they are still important, because my first journal had papers which would bleed right through.
"I have always been the kid who doodles and now I turned those doodles into art with messages for inclusion and awareness."
Guys this was Manasa RB, from Bengaluru who is a Speech Language Pathologist/ Audiologist. She defines her art as "art mixed with inclusion” and try to spread awareness about issues related to speech and hearing disabilities through her art.
If you want to check more of her work and if you would like to learn miniature clay modelling from Manasa, then you can use these links: