Art education has been at the heart of VAST since it was founded in 1998. In the early days, VAST did not have a studio space and classes met outside at the clocktower to learn painting and drawing. The classes have continued as VAST has grown.
Today VAST offers weekend classes that cater to about 60-70 students of all ages. Led by senior artists, the classes start off with the basics of drawing and work their way through the use of acrylics, water color, and oil pastels among other media. These classes are open to both those interested in art as a hobby as well as anyone hoping to learn the fundamentals to pursue future education or a career in the arts. As and when the instructors are available, specialized short-term programmes are also offered such as photography, videography, installation art, water colors, ceramics, etc.
VAST also offers an informal class with mentoring service to about three to five students each year who are planning to pursue formal art education and architectural programmes. These young members of VAST can often be found painting in the studio and help handle much of the day-to-day work at VAST and also participate in VASTs voluntary works. Many of these members have gone onto further art education and some now run independent studios. Others have found employment for their artistic skills as graphic designers, business people, or educators.
With the increasing demand for art education, VAST looks forward to expanding its programmes in art education in the future. VAST plans to offer professional development programs for people to learn artistic skills needed in their careers. Likewise, we plan to expand the variety of art classes we offer to both youth and adults in the future to include forms of art such as installation art, sculpture, graphic designs for interested community members. In the long run VAST aspires to make use of the expertise of members who have completed degrees in the arts to offer diploma courses. Its an ambitious hope, one we believe the community both wants and needs.
We also believe that art education is an important part of our voluntary work. VAST plans to offer classes to communities that could especially benefit from the engagement and skills learned in art education like out-of-school youth, inmates, and patients. VAST also plans to continue its outreach to rural communities, teaching art during its summer and winter Art Camps.
We at VAST believe that the way one lives can be a work of art. Through a variety of philanthropic activities, VAST fosters a sense of community, and seeks to improve the world around us however we can. Rather than seeing art as primarily an individualistic pursuit, we believe in the importance of community, a value rooted in Bhutanese culture.
Art is a powerful tool for pursuing this objective. Through exhibitions on social themes such as the Rights of the Child and Young Zoom on Garbage VAST seeks to empower artists and also to raise awareness. Art also brings people together. Our exhibitions and workshops are social occasions often accompanied potlucks where, over a plate of ema datshi and rice, the community can build bonds and exchange ideas. Ultimately we believe both the process and product of making art are important tools for addressing social problems and teaching the values of empathy, creativity, open-mindedness, and responsibility.
Beyond art, VAST brings its members together to collectively improve our society through volunteer work. Current projects include The Art of Giving, Make a Wish, and Rice Bank. Each of the projects seeks to build bridges between rural and urban Bhutan and to tangibly improve lives. For example, for the Rice Bank project VAST members work with a community in Punakha to help them obtain rice during the lean season. VAST members work in the fields and then market the villages red rice, using the profits to help buy and transport rice to the village during the next year. As VAST moves forward, we will strengthen our existing programs and expand them to include new initiatives.
VAST Bhutan aspires to be a hub for contemporary art in Bhutan. To this end, VAST strives to provide a variety of art related services to artists and the community.
One of the primary goals of VAST is to help both professional and amateur artists to constantly improve their work. To meet this goal, VAST strives to provide a variety of forms of art education and services. Currently, it offers a platform for artists to display their artworks by organizing exhibitions, fairs, festivals and art exchange programmes. VAST Bhutan also facilitates participation of Bhutanese artists in international art exhibitions and exchange programmes.
Commissioned work constitutes an important service provided by VAST. By working on commission, VAST provides services to both artists and the community. By working as per the need of agencies and individuals, art from VAST transforms ordinary spaces into something beautiful. At the same time these projects provide earn-and-learn opportunities for young artists. VAST both helps artists hone their skills as well as to learn how to make a living as an artist.
These efforts will be continued to ensure promotion of art in all spheres of the society. VAST Bhutan will continue to take up commissioned works to ensure quality and creation of original artworks for the society. Exhibitions and fairs including exchange programmes will be continued to bring artists together. Over time, VAST Bhutan will provide valuation and quality appraisal of artworks including research on preservation. All these efforts will be an attempt to ensure quality of artworks in the market and for better regulation of quality.
Other creative ways of engaging the community will be sought by way of delivering diverse programmes. These programmes may include art therapy and also art residency programs. Through these programmes, it is hoped that appreciation of arts will be promoted and the audience base will be widened.
Voluntary Artists Studio, Thimphu, popularly known as VAST was set up in 1998 by a group of professional artists as a not-forprofit organisation with the primary aim to provide opportunity to the Bhutanese youth to participate and develop their potential artistic talents especially in contemporary art, develop sense of social responsibilities through community services and also to explore art as a vocation.
VAST Bhutan pursues these goals by:
- Providing art classes to the interested youth.
- Organizing art camps for youth to appreciate art and learn values.
- Initiating programmes related to community services to learn the art-of-giving.
- Facilitating the participation of young artist in national and international art exchange programmes, festivals, and exhibitions.
- Providing a place for youths with personal problems to use art as a therapy and help them develop life skills to face the challenges.
VAST Bhutan grew in its reach and influence in the Country and in 2014 became a Civil Society Organisation.
A creative Bhutanese society, nurtured for and by art, that enriches lives.
- To explore and promote contemporary art.
- To promote social values, social responsibility and life skills through art.
- To further artistic expression and appreciation.
Our Core Values
- Socially Responsible
Initially, in the year 1998, a group of artist;Kama Wangdi, Phurba Thinley Sherpa, Jigme Lotey and Pema Dorji came together to create a platform to provide opportunityto young art enthusiasts. Together they formed Voluntary Artist Studio of Thimphu, popularly known as VAST. The name VAST was chosen by Nim Karma Sherpa, a very good friend of Kama Wangdi. A year later Jampel Cheda joined the group and Jigme Lotey and Pema Dorji left the group to pursue their own endeavours. Ever since then, Kama Wangdi, Phurba Thinley Sherpa and Jampel Cheda, who had theforesight to understand the invaluable benefit and importance of contemporary art and general art education has been keeping VAST Bhutan up and running. VAST Bhutan became a registered CSO in 2014 under their leadership.