India’s Kolam art kicks off Biden-Harris inauguration festivities

Traditional artwork kolam to celebrate America’s incredible diversity made by hundreds of people across the nation.

Traditional artwork to celebrate America’s incredible diversity made by hundreds of people across the nation.

America’s largest Kolam, a geometric art form from South India, where Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has roots, was featured in Presidential Inaugural Committee’s welcome event celebrating America’s change makers.

Titled ‘America United’, the 80-minute kick-off event Saturday highlighted artwork by newly empowered communities “to celebrate America, reflect and honor our history, and highlight the incredible diversity of the nation.”

Kolam featured on the show was made by hundreds of artists, citizens and students from across the country collaborating together online to combine thousands of local pieces with global strength.

Maryland artist Shanthi Chandrasekar, who curated the artwork to welcome President-elect Joe Biden and Harris, said the Inauguration Kolam was designed to be accessible and inclusive to signify a sense of unity.

She was joined by Washington Public Schools arts director Mary Lambert and visual arts manager Lindsey Vance to combine thousands of kolam tiles made by people of many different backgrounds.

In South India women draw kolams on the ground to invite health and prosperity into houses where they are displayed. “Many believe kolams symbolize positive energy and new beginnings,” said Chandrasekar.

“People of all ages from various communities collaborated from their homes to create tiles with eco-friendly materials. What started out as a local project spread way beyond our expectations.”

Students from ten Washington, DC, public schools participated in kolam. Lambert said the DCPS arts curriculum focuses on equity and believes cultural representation is an important part of that effort.

“This project provided an opportunity for our students to learn about another culture and the math skills needed for creation in the arts,” said Lambert. “As well, an opportunity to express their identity through visual arts and to see that united with others from around the country.”

Shekar Narasimhan of Virginia, whose niece and grandniece joined many others to make tiles for the Inauguration Kolam, supported the project. It reflects and honors the history of America, which is not made, but in the making itself, he said.

“With the rise of diverse America, the energy behind this artwork is a reminder of what binds us together as Americans,” said Narasimhan.

Saturday’s welcome event celebrating America’s diverse changemakers and showcasing their commitment to coming together kicked off five days of programming leading into the inauguration of Biden and Harris.

The event can be watched at and on the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s social media platforms.

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