Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rappai Poothokaren sj - St Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad, India

Dear Francoise

Greetings from Gurjarvani. I was happy to have you at the third Jesuit Artist’s Workshop, at Sameeksha, Kalady. Thank you. Your presence and work contributed a different, artistic and feminine presence to the workshop. As I have told you earlier, your dolls really speak, and speak very loud and clear.

You have discovered a way of proclaiming the Good News that is very artistic, original and effective. Your two exhibitions in Gujarat were unique, and their impact great. Your simple, but beautiful dolls speak to the young and old about the beauty and greatness of lives of ordinary people, especially women. The poor of this earth, who belong to the Kingdom of God, speak to the viewers through your dolls. As your dolls are small and cute, their message about their struggle and suffering, and their caring and sharing their tenacity and hope do not evoke resistance in the viewers. They call for a change in the viewer’s attitude towards the poor. They challenge the viewer to question his/her assumptions, attitudes and middle-class prejudices. They inspire people to act, act for change –in themselves, in their families and in the world.

Your book, with the poems, inspires. I understand that you are going to publish another book. I look forward to reading it, and seeing the new set of dolls. You told me once that you have a plan to publish a book of dolls on the Gospel. That would indeed be a great way of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus.

While your books are good, the impact of the exhibitions is much greater. Your dolls speak directly to the viewer. The dolls and the viewers interact, and the dialogue is transforming. I strongly recommend that you hold as many exhibitions as you can. Please do not turn down any invitation to hold exhibitions anywhere in the world.

You know Francoise earlier foreign missionaries have been accused of highlighting our poverty abroad to raise funds. Good intentions apart, often it was true that such a presentation projected a distorted image of India, and ‘used’ the povery of the poor. But your dolls, many of them about the life of the poor, give a beautiful message to the world, especially to the consumerist, developed world, increasingly losing the values of humanity and compassion. The Beatitudes of Jesus –blessed are the poor…., blessed are….blessed are…. –are true! The poor, the exploited, the marginalized live in hope, trusting in God, sharing and caring for each other. They do not have material wealth, but have a spiritual depth that the world is very much in need of.

Francoise, may your tribe increase! May your dolls reach more and more people, and speak to their heart. Let those who cannot see your dolls ‘alive’ see them in your books.
My prayers and good wishes are with you, and your special mission. With warm regards. 
~ Rappai Poothokaren sj
St Xavier’s college campus, Ahmedabad May 2006

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