The Aravani Art Project is an artist collective of trans and cis women in India who aim to increase trans visibility in the public’s eye. They do this by quite literally occupying the streets of India and creating murals of different trans women or other community members. 

This allows them to share their stories and increase trans visibility on the streets of India. It gives them a chance to leave their marks in the community they belong to while beautifying the neighbourhood. This makes The Aravani Art Project reflect the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality.

The Aravani Art Project often undertakes large-scale mural projects, filling public spaces and whole buildings, such as their Freedom Park piece in Bangalore or their Sonagachi street art mural.

The Aravani Art Project mural at Sonagachi Street. Image courtesy of @aravaniartproject/Instagram.

Their Sonagachi Street mural was also made to support Samabhabona, a registered local trans rights organization, to raise funds for sex workers and members of the transgender community who were going through tough economic times during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

The Me/We Project by The Aravani Art Project at the Mahim (E) Art District, Mumbai. Image courtesy of @aravaniartproject/Instagram.

Aside from depicting trans women, The Aravani Art Project has also branched out to portray relevant community members in its murals. One example is its piece, The Me/We Project, which was made in partnership with St+art India. The piece portrays local community members during daily acts of kindness. 

The gargantuan mural, which covered two walls on the sides of the Mahim (E) Art District building in Mumbai, showed everyday acts of kindness, such as a child feeding a goat, children greeting the neighbourhood elderly and neighbours chatting from their windows.

The project was made to pay tribute to not only the notion of kindness but also the community’s togetherness, something that The Aravani Art Project wishes to extend to people from all walks of life.

Deepa in Colaba I (left) and Deepa in Colaba II (right) by The Aravani Art Project, on display at Gallery XXL ( Image courtesy of @aravaniartproject/Instagram.

Aside from their large-scale public art, pieces by the Aravani Art Project have also been made into the white cube walls of art galleries. One instance was their May 2023 exhibition at the XXL Gallery, Bangalore. This exhibition provided trans women with some much-needed financial empowerment, giving members of The Aravani Art Project a source of income in a world where trans women are often excluded from the workforce due to widespread discrimination.

Art of The Aravani Art Project team members by The Aravani Art Project member Sadhna Prasad ( Image courtesy of @aravaniartproject/Instagram.

This proves that, ultimately, The Aravani Art Project remains committed to empowering trans women in India and beyond. “Our fight doesn't stop at this. We are vigilant about our friends, sisters, and lovers from the trans community. We fight for all those who are not getting this opportunity, for all those who are being silenced, and for all those who still aren't free,” The Aravani Art Project shared on their Instagram.

Check out The Aravani Art Project’s Instagram account, @aravaniartproject, to learn more about its mural and other initiatives.

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