Founded by the artist, Faiza Khan, in 2010, is a non-political, non-partisan, non-religious and not-for-profit organization operating from Islamabad, Pakistan. RASTAY is a forum to promote and encourage the Government of Pakistan and civil society to strengthen the nation by creating avenues for dialogue, participation through art and cultural forums, educational, social development initiatives and through creative resolutions to eliminate challenges. Their mandate is to cultivate dynamic space and platform for leaders and civil society to play a vital role in building Pakistan as a nation that is strong and embraces unity in the age of dialogue.
Rastay is a group of artists working explicitly and overtly to bring affirmative social changes through effective artwork. Committed to confront oppression and injustice and working as a strong community to support education, social activism and counter extremism, Rastay art was set out to imagine the opportunities to redefine and reimage the world and relationships with fellow human beings.
At Rastay, artists are encouraged to bring about a positive social change through art activism featuring social issues such as child labor, violence, political corruptions, minority rights and gender equality through paintings.
It is Rastay’s mission to connect people with art initiatives, events and opportunities and build strong collaborations between artists, activists and community through art exhibitions and dialogues for social change. It also provides a platform that engage and empower youth leaders to work for under privileged society.
Various activities through which Rastay works include interactive exhibitions against sectarian violence and discriminations, cultivating pluralism in Pakistan society through art and activism. It is a platform to educate young generations and communities that are uninformed and unexposed to art.
Some of the activities other than art promotion at Rastay include:
- Rastay theatre shows to groom and motivate young artists to perform for positive social awareness.
- Art workshops for the students who love to participate in human welfare. At this platform, youth are nurtured through the usage of water colors, acrylic encaustic, printmaking, oil and mixed media. They are motivated to create a master piece in world of arts.
- Their interactive art exhibitions are influential and informative. They start a dialogue for justice regarding various social issues. Annual Rastay Art exhibition has been initiated as a dialogue between artists to create social awareness in eradicating injustice, honor killing, child labor, prejudices, challenging intolerance and creating space for pluralism.
A dialogue with Faiza Khan.
Nigaah: what was your thought behind initiating Rastay?
Faiza Khan: Rastay was conceived when I conducting art workshops at various places and observed a huge gap between Art and Society. I had always questioned the role of Art in the society. Here, in Pakistan, I saw a complete disconnection of Art with the general public. Why? Should Art really be reduced to it’s role of decorating walls and nothing beyond that? Such were the questions that lead me to a small step, making of a small platform for those who wanted to do something for the society as Artists. They are few, but since 2011 we have never stopped. We are always doing one thing or another, whether we document it or not, whether it’s published somewhere or not, but we keep doing something, and communicating with the general public in the language of Art.
Nigaah: How does it affect art and artists in general?
Faiza Khan: RASTAY is basically doing social work, via Art. It’s often called Art Activism. It really doesn’t affect the artists in a lot of ways, but yes it does affect the society. It has been a very effective language for us so far, regarding our communication with the children, patients via Art therapy, women in rural areas, professionals from other fields like poets, writers, health practitioners etc. Artists are always welcome to join hands and there have always been many volunteers with us, in every project of ours.
Nigaah: What are some specific activities that you have in pipeline to support artists?
Faiza Khan: Our support for artists is basically through the following modes, which is always continuing:
- Interested artists who are or would like to work in the field of Art Activism, may join us, give us their projects and we make those dreams come true.
- Artists who are under privileged must be supported in some ways. Therefore RASTAY sells works of Art to collectors without charging any commission, provided the art work gets approved by our panel of judges.
- We have collaborations with many international organisations, and for various projects, have conducted exchange programs and international group shows. There are many in the pipeline.
Nigaah: How important is it to have collaboration with an international entity to promote art locally? and why?
Faiza Khan: It is important to have collaboration with international organisations to promote art, but not locally. Locally I think the system and the Art Industry is growing and in the early stages of its evolution. It needs awareness from within before its mature enough to face the Global Art. Today even an individual artist can bring revolutionary ideas in Art and our artists have just started in this era to pave a way through global art which is very encouraging. Hopefully with time we will be able to attract the outside world to our local art as well.