South Asia & Aboriginal Australia

Rohingya children participating in one of our 2018 Artolution projects in Bangladesh.

Through a diverse series of projects going back to 2016, I’ve had the honor of being involved in some fascinating and important movements across the Asia-Pacific region. From a youth center in a Delhi slum to the Rohingya refugee camps of Bangladesh; a summit to raise awareness for human trafficking in West Bengal to intergenerational mural painting with Aboriginal communities in the Central Desert of Australia. I’ve been moved by the incredible resilience and creativity of the many children, communities and artists I partnered with on these journeys…


During two visits to Bangladesh over the last few years, I’ve spent time supporting our team of Rohingya and host community artists, who are leading one of Artolution’s enduring and impactful programs with refugee children. I’m truly inspired by these survivors, who– despite going through unspeakable trauma during the 2017 genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar– are working tirelessly to bring strength and creativity to the younger generations. Highlights:


In 2016, my wife, CJ Thomas, and I spent 3 months leading arts projects across India, an unforgettable experience. Highlights:

  • In the Indira Slum of Okhla in Delhi, children advocated for gender equity in their community and an end to harassment through murals, a public performance and sculptures made of recycled trash. 
  • In Siliguri, we worked with local artists and women who had experienced sex trafficking to produce a mural and dance performance that aimed to combat stigma and raise awareness for human trafficking. 
  • In a slum community in Mumbai’s Andheri East, youth and families explored issues of child labor and the infanticide of girls through a series of theatrical plays, dances and murals. 
  • In Kolkata, working with teens who had been through many challenges, we created a giant mural that explored the battling of inner demons, the struggle to overcome obstacles and the bright future that each young person is striving for. 
  • In Chennai, we visited the Karunalaya center for street children, where our young hosts painted their dreams for their education, families and careers in the future on a mural in the courtyard of the center they call home. 
  • In South Bombay, we worked with an inspiring group of young women on a mural for the Kala Ghoda Art Festival, focused on issues of gender-based violence and gender equity.

Thanks to the partner organizations that made these projects possible: Meridian International Center, Give a Hand Foundation, Mumbai Smiles, Vidya, US Consulate Mumbai, US Consulate Kolkata, Karunalaya, Birla Academy of Arts and Culture, Shakti Vahini. Thanks to all our partner artists: Zeba Rizvi, Kevin Bagchi, Sayak Mitra, Ilana Price, Max Frieder, Krishna Sharma, Anindya, Saptarshi, Santanu, Binod, and dozens of children and youth artists– you guys are all amazing!


In the Aboriginal town camps of the Central Desert of Australia, quality of life is far from the wealthy cities of Melbourne and Sydney, with severe health and social problems plaguing Indigenous peoples, who have faced oppression and displacement for centuries. However, there exists a sense of hope in these communities, where resilience is rooted in strong traditions and cultures that have persevered since ancient times. Through a series of Artolution community mural projects, inter-generational groups of residents came together to tell their stories, form positive connections with others and celebrate their way of life. For me, this was a powerful and educational experience.


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