On the morning of April 25, Kathmandu resident Kapil Mani Dixit (’04) awoke early to visit his friend’s mother in the hospital. By the time he reached town, he saw a motorbike suddenly falling over on the street. Second later, he and the rest of the area residents were scrambling amidst a devastating earthquake.
A magnitude 7.8 quake hit central Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people and injuring 19,000 more as entire villages were flattened. Originating in the village of Barpak, Gorkha district, 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu, the quake left hundreds of thousands homeless and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing 19 people.
A second, 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit May 12. More than 200 people were killed and more than 2,500 were injured. The two quakes are the worst disasters to hit the Asian region since 1934.
Via email, Dixit described the level of destruction he witnessed in the days that followed the April 25 quake:
“Kathmandu is one of the ancient cities of Nepal and is surrounded by many temples, artifacts and world heritage sites,” he said. “Most of the ancient temples have either been destroyed or collapsed by this disaster.Most of the images [broadcast around the world] were either of the collapsed buildings or of the people buried under the rubble or destroyed temples. Live videos and CCTV footage of the earthquake were also circulated widely after the earthquake.”
As Dixit made plans to leave Nepal and reunite with his family in Australia, rescue efforts were coordinated through local groups first, then had the assistance of international aid relief.
“Local communities were leading the relief and rescue operations in the beginning,” he said. “Eventually foreign aid started coming in. However, the youths and the locals are still helping each other and supporting the rescue and recovery activities.”
Dixit, an artist who studied fine art at North Lake College and at UT Arlington in the Department of Art & Art History, said many of Nepal’s historical sculptures, temples and wall paintings have been destroyed.
“These were the precious part of our culture and heritage, which dated centuries back,” he said.
Nepal’s National Academy of Fine Arts building was severely damaged in the quake. While most of the valuable artwork was recovered, the ancient building is left in shambles. Dixit said the personal studios and galleries of many Nepalese artists have also been damaged.
Once the immediate needs for displaced victims have been met, Dixit said he and his colleagues would turn their attention to recovering and restoring Nepal’s rich art and cultural artifacts.
“People are already voicing their opinion to rebuild such structures,” he said. “However, it requires huge financial and technical investment.”
Dixit is no stranger to utilizing art for charity: A day before the April 25 earthquake, he donated 32 paintings and organized an art auction to raise funds to build school in Dolpa, one of the more remote districts of Nepal. In 2012, he submitted work for auction to benefit the Help Nepal Network. Most of this 17 paintings – inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas and Vincent van Gogh’s The Bedroom – were sold and proceeds given to the charity.
Dixit plans to utilize galleries and auction houses in Australia and Nepal to sell some of his work and drive proceeds to earthquake victims.
“Now, the priority is to rebuild the nation and fulfill basic needs of the victims. The whole economy of the nation will be affected,” he said. “But this doesn’t mean I will totally stop painting. I will support my country and victims through my artwork. This will impact my career and art in general.”
To learn more about the quake’s impact on Nepali artists like Dixit, view a special Facebook page.