Published: 02nd August 2019
This Hyderabad artist helps dyslexic children rediscover themselves through art
Afrah Sameen, who was born and brought up in Hyderabad, has one main motto which is, 'Let's give art an equal chance'. She wants to achieve this motto through her workshops
It was art that saw Afrah Sameen though a childhood made difficult due to learning difficulties. Her teachers were so frustrated with her that she was often a victim of corporal punishment so much so that she had to switch schools. "This was the time when art worked as a therapy for me," says Afrah, who also credits family support for helping her maintain sanity. Her parents taught her how to draw. Soon, she started sketching and painting and has now grown up to become a passionate artist. Today, the 23-year-old conducts workshops across Hyderabad under her own brand Artlexic and her speciality is glow paintings. These workshops don't just help her spread her love for art, she also educates her participants about dyslexia. She plans to use the funds gathered from her workshops to offer free workshops at schools and help students who are struggling.
She even has a small section in her workshop for creative career options
Afrah, who has an MBA from St Ann's College for Women, speaks about one of the reasons she did not drop out of college or switch to another field, "Because if I did, then people would think that those with learning difficulties can't pass exams. I want to offer workshops in schools, share my own experiences and be an example for those struggling in their lives." Not that she hasn't approached schools already to start off on her mission, but that's a different story altogether. "People in schools do not understand what dyslexia is. They think I am talking about mentally-challenged students and get offended. They say that they don't have any mentally-challenged students. So, the approach that I want to take is to tell them I'm offering free art workshops," says the youngster who clearly has thought her plan through. Through her workshops, she wants to identify children with learning difficulties and help make their lives easier. She has already conducted one such workshop at her own school, Sujatha High School, and is rearing to conduct more. All this to ensure that the awful experiences her childhood was fraught with are not experienced by others. "I was never allowed to go on stage. The school was divided into two — bright and dull. I was always pushed to the back bench. So, this workshop is to make those backbenchers feel like heroes for a day," she says emotionally.
Head held high: Afrah with her artwork | (Pic: Afrah Sameen)
Having worked with Colour Me Mine, a paint-your-own-ceramics chain, and held her first art exhibition in 2016, Afrah has used art as a tool to gain confidence, overcome her difficulties and become more self-aware. She has also conducted several workshops at Lamakaan, Collab House and Studio Pepperfry. At these workshops, she provides personalised kits which include glow paints, brushes, canvases, a beginner's sheet for reference painting and more.
Some famous personalities who conquered their learning difficulties:
- Leonardo da Vinci: The famous Italian painter was believed to have dyslexia and ADHD but he was a polymath too
- Agatha Christie: A writer who suffered from dysgraphia, a learning disorder that affects penmanship and spelling
- Steve Jobs: Apple's founder was dyslexic yet today, he is known as a creative innovator
- Charles Darwin: Known best for his evolution theory, this scientist had mild dyslexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder
Artwork on display
For more about her, check out instagram.com/artlexic