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FEATURE STORY January 30, 2020

Dreaming of Thailand's Future: Art from the Heart of Youth

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Children and youth’s artwork on Thailand’s future were displayed at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre as part of the World Bank’s 70th anniversary celebration in Thailand. Photo: Thosawat Niemviwat/World Bank


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The World Bank invited children and youth nationwide to submit artwork from across the country to voice their thoughts about Thailand’s future.
  • Some of the main topics that came through in the artwork expressed deep concerns for the environment and climate change, the sustainability of progress, quality education, the diversity in Thai culture, and the need to respect and accept each other’s differences.
  • The exhibition was organized as part of the 70th anniversary celebration and launch of the new Country Partnership Framework between Thailand and the World Bank.

During one of the smoggiest week of the year when the toxic PM 2.5 has blanketed Bangkok, many people might be feeling depressed and concerned about Thailand’s environmental, economical and political issues. However, a better future is possible and it starts with using our own voices.

Through an art exhibition “Thailand Young Artists: Our Country, Our Future” the World Bank invited young people nationwide to submit artwork from all over the country to voice their thoughts about Thailand’s future. More than 300 artwork from children and youth across Thailand were received. While they were diverse in age, origin, and style, the main topics that came through expressed deep concerns for the environment and climate change, the sustainability of progress, quality education, the diversity in Thai culture, and the need to respect and accept each other’s differences.

A judging committee selected 50 artwork based on aesthetic, creativity and content to be exhibited at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre from January 21-26, 2020. The young artists whose work was featured at the exhibition also joined the opening of the exhibition and shared about their motivations and the future they dream of during a special talk session.  


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A special talk on the future of Thailand was organized with young artists whose work was featured in the art exhibition. Photo: Thosawat Niemviwat/World Bank


Unchalika Kaewchan, a student of the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts at Silpakorn University entered the art competition looking for an opportunity to showcase her ability and to talk about her interest in social issues. She painted a picture of a boy holding his sketchbook containing his dreams.  

"When I was young, I would draw whatever I dreamed of in a book. This boy is also the same. He draws his dreams in his notebook but behind the boy is a wooden shack implying his poor family status. In this picture, I want to communicate inequality in education,” Unchalika explained. “Every child is equally human but receives unequal opportunities in life. Some still have to walk to school, have no books, and have no opportunity to continue their studies. Therefore, this picture isn’t a question about whether the boy will achieve his dreams or not, but inviting viewers to think about what we can do to help the boy fulfill his dreams so that he doesn’t have to fight alone."

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For her painting, Unchalika Kaewjan wanted to communicate about inequality in education. Photo: Waree Noiyai/World Bank

Phanthahathai Bangkhuntien depicted a world with two sides mirroring each other in her drawing. One side is bright, beautiful with nature and technology. The other side is smoggy and polluted. She painted this picture out of her concern for the environment and to convey the “butterfly effect” of our actions, whether big or small, which will definitely affect the future of our world.

"I want to see changes in society. I would like people to use less cars and wish for more convenient public transport. Nowadays, Bangkok is facing congestion and pollution. No matter what we do, nothing seems to fix this problem so this is an important issue that people should be aware of,” said Phanthahathai.

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Phanthahathai Bangkhuntien depicted a world with two sides mirroring each other in her drawing. Photo: Waree Noiyai/World Bank

For Prach Thammawutikul, a student from the Graphic and Information Design Department at Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, he painted a picture of farmers harvesting rice. Instead of rice though, 100 baht bank notes were drawn to convey that today farmers work in exchange for money. However, even if farmers put in 100% effort into growing rice, they might not get 100% return as they have to pay a share to the rice mill, for transportation costs, and to other companies so they are still struggling and poor.

Prach thinks that there needs to be more respect to laws and human rights. He said, “People in Thai society should stop thinking that just because other people do it, we can do it too. For example, it can be little things like riding a motorcycle on the sidewalk or people cutting across a lawn. They may sound insignificant, however, they are misconducts and damaging.” He hopes that if people are more respectful towards one another, there will be less problems in society.

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Prach Thammawutikul painted a picture of farmers harvesting rice to depict the struggle they face. Photo: Waree Noiyai/World Bank

For 18-year-old Patima Saeboo, she drew about diversity and inclusion and how we can live in harmony together despite the differences in ethnicity, origin, age, skin color and gender. She used bright colors to communicate that we can live together even if we are different.

"I think it is an issue that people do not respect each other's differences. We blame and stigmatize people who are different from us. By accepting and understanding that other people have different life conditions from ours, it can help us coexist. We don’t have to worry about walking down the streets. We can wear whatever we want. We can express our identity and no one would say anything and we'll all feel a lot safer,” Patima said.

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"We blame and stigmatize people who are different from us. By accepting and understanding that other people have different life conditions from ours, it can help us coexist," said Patima Saeboo. Photo: Waree Noiyai/World Bank

Professor Jirawut Ueasungkomsate from the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology, Silpakorn University, was one of the panel of judges and shared about how interested he was when he saw these young people's artwork that communicated both every day factual issues and less familiar abstract content. Having the opportunity to talk to the youths of today, he found that they possess interesting reflections that adults should listen to.

During the exhibition opening, the World Bank Thailand Country Manager, Birgit Hansl, shared that the World Bank supports sustainable development and aims to create positive change in Thailand. It therefore started off the year by listening to the youths' voices through this exhibition. In the next few months, she hopes to bring a group of these young artists to meet the Finance Minister to deliver the voices of the next generation.

The exhibition was organized as part of the 70th anniversary celebration and launch of the new Country Partnership Framework between Thailand and the World Bank. Click here to view more photos of the art exhibition.

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Award ceremony for the “Thailand Young Artists: Our Country, Our Future” art competition during the opening of the exhibition with Birgit Hansl, Country Manager for Thailand, World Bank. Photo: Thosawat Niemviwat/World Bank



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