“Painting really is a way of life, seeing and survival for me,” says Toronto-based artist Fathima Mohiuddin, who paints under the name Fatspatrol and who visited Utah recently to complete one of the new murals in South Salt Lake’s Mural Fest.
Working on a large scale is something she has since been working towards since her teens. She started painting her bedroom walls when she was 14, and worked as an apprentice on murals when she was 18. “I did my BA in studio art and my MA in sociology which is kind of how I arrived at public art/ art in public spaces.” She has been painting murals professionally for the past 12 years.
“I always start by digging deep and learning about the place I’ll be painting,” she says. “In this case I pulled at a string about a large refugee and immigrant population living in South Salt Lake. I read that they came from countries like Somalia, Sudan and Iraq, to name a few. And I thought about how rich these cultures are. Some of our earliest civilizations. Vibrant and intricate. And in spite of the challenging circumstances that bring refugees to new places like South Salt Lake, they also bring with them so much that enriches the communities they come to.”
Through shapes and patterns she makes subtle references to their cultures. Central to the piece is the color orange, which struck her on a trip to India in February. “The color of spice and textile and the rich earth in some Asian and African countries. I myself was born an expat in the United Arab Emirates and eventually became a Canadian immigrant. I come from beautifully rich Indian culture. I just want us to celebrate the magic of mingling. How much richer we are as a society when we share, exchange, embrace and celebrate. With kindness and sensitivity to circumstance.”
An exchange and celebration is what she felt at The Mural Fest in mid-May. “After an uneasy start to the year I feel invigorated and energized by the people I spent my first trip to Utah with and am grateful for their hard work and energy. (And badassness). Not to mention the local community that showed only kindness and intrigue.”
For this project in particular, Mohiuddin let herself go with painting big. “When I start out I’m always comparing it to my sketch and beat myself up if it isn’t identical but on this project I really learnt to give in to the stage when the actual mural becomes its own work of art and it’s no longer a reference to a sketch … It becomes independent and self-standing and you just focus on making it the best you can.”
You can view more of the artist’s work at https://www.fats.ink.
With our In Plain Site byline we feature publicly viewable art, both official and street art, throughout the state of Utah.