Nothing that I do today would have been possible without MUWCI. I am not the most stellar of students, and was going through the motions in the Indian school system. I got accepted to MUWCI, and started studying a wide variety of subjects and reading a lot more. While my academic brilliance didn’t (still hasn’t, and most likely will never) manifest itself, I did find myself engaged in a wide variety of avenues of study that still continue to inform my work in graduate school and in my art practice.
After MUWCI, I went to College of Idaho to study Art. After graduating with a Major in Art, I enrolled into the National Museum Institute in New Delhi, where I am currently studying Art Conservation. Frankly, I was lucky in that I found what I wanted to do in life, in MUWCI’s art classes with Nandu. I am still working at my own personal projects in photography, and in addition, working in the field of art conservation, which is tremendously exciting. Getting to handle and study the great works of art in museums, archives and in the field, up close and personal is exhilarating.
MUWCI was the first place where I got to working with my hands. I started making (very crude) musical instruments and Ben and Parag were constant sources of (very unwarranted, but welcome) encouragement. I moved on to working with photography and sculpture. Eventually in Idaho, I ended up involved in the classic car scene, photographing and working on cars made before my parents were born. I also got to learning banjo and bass and playing for a country and bluegrass band. Soon after, I began working with historic cameras and techniques long obsolete, which is what I do now in graduate school and for my personal work. I imagine I wouldn’t be doing any of those things if not for MUWCI.
I still remember year long seminars in Marxism and Post-Modernism with Cyrus, Usha, Hartman, Urmila, Michael and other teachers and classmates. I cannot claim to have understood a fraction of what was going on, but what I did manage to figure out has done me much good in how I look at the world. MUWCI threw me in a multicultural environment with remarkable freedom. For a 17-year-old boy who grew up in the prim and proper Indian school, it was a culture shock. But it prepared me for the four years in Idaho, and even more so, the last year and a half in Delhi. Most importantly, I learnt (mostly because of my chequered academic and disciplinary record) that it is okay to mess up once in a while, as long as you learn from it and don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.
I reckon I am fairly adaptable and would end up doing okay for myself in life, but I would definitely have done a lot worse for myself if I didn’t end up in MUWCI.
– Rahul Sharma (J&K, India, Class of 2010)