Fatima Fasih: Creating Art with Meaning
It was in 8th grade when my parents decided to gift me a set of watercolour paints in order to focus my creative energies to one stream of art.
Since then, my watercolour tablets and I have been an inseparable duo. It took long for me to accept that I was an artist, but it had to be done. After moving to Canada in 2009, my homeland Pakistan was devastated with massive floods from its northern to southern end. It was the first summer in my life that I had spent away from Pakistan and so I decided to use my art to raise awareness about the environmental disaster that had made millions homeless and thousands dead.
I produced a series of ten paintings focusing on the impact of the disaster on children. These works were auctioned in Pakistan and Canada to fundraise for emergency relief efforts. Then on, I painted for all the issues that mattered most to Canada, and it being my home for the past six years, was the perfect place to start to reach out to people of all kinds. Hence, year after year, I began to use my work as a way to raise awareness for more social justice issues, as well as help demystify the many myths people have about Muslims. In order to play my due part, I made portraits and paintings regarding the devastating droughts in the Sindh province of Pakistan and the Syrian Conflict. Through artwork produced about the impact of conflict on children of Syria, more than $4,000 were raised for emergency relief of child refugees. Furthermore, I also wanted to showcase the Pakistan I fell in love with growing up and produced series of paintings highlighting the colourful culture of the country — I was able to exhibit these at many occasions in Toronto.
Just last year, I was featured as the exhibit artist at the Women & Conflict Conference hosted by the Mosaic Institute at the University of Toronto. Through this opportunity, I learned about the suffering and success of many women that fought for justice and peace in countries around the world — including DR Congo, Burma, and Afghanistan.
While researching for the themes of these paintings, I went through an emotional debacle, reading stories about what innocent by-standers, mostly women and children, go through during times of war and conflict. With many parts of the Muslim world in a state of war, my heart worried for the innocent women and children that result in being the worst sufferers of conflict, despite being those with the least responsibility in the crises. Being a Masters student in Sustainability Management at UofT, my vision with Fatima Fasih Watercolors began to greatly align with the sustainability issues that I was already passionate about.
Moreover, to bring to light the simplest of things, I began using my paintbrush as a tool to inform people about my values and faith as a Muslim and remove any stereotypes that they might believe. With an explosion of reliable and unreliable information available through the media, I decided to produce artwork about Islam that showcases its values of tolerance, peace & harmony. Like many Muslims, I was raised to respect all people and value all beings, regardless of their beliefs and backgrounds, and hence, watercolors have helped me carry that message forward. In such times of political unrest across the globe, with streaks of intolerance and conflict poisoning the most peaceful of communities, I believe there is still so much more to be done to produce a harmonious, peaceful and happy world. I hope that through my work as a sustainability professional and an artist, I am able to help in the near future.