The many layers of Farooq Karim and his art.
Take a closer look at Farooq Karim’s intricate paper artwork, and layers of meanings unfold.
Karim is an architect and uses a collection of architectural tools to place and cut his unique flower blooms out of paper. He sources materials thoughtfully and purposefully according to each project, and he often donates his pieces to people, organizations or causes about which he cares deeply.
Hero Blossom, created during COVID, is one example. Karim crafted multicolored flowers from magazine pages he and his wife tore out while cleaning out art supplies during the first quarantine, while toilet paper rolls saved by friends during the shortage added more structure. On the outer edges, Karim transcribed a six-page letter from a friend, an ER doctor, about being on the front lines. Hero Blossom was raffled off on Facebook and netted $5,500 in donations to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
In an effort to reveal a few more layers, we recently spoke with Karim about his meaningful artwork.
You created your first assembled piece of art in 2017 for the Omelette Party benefiting the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. How was that initial piece received?
It’s a raffle, so every piece has a box in which bids are placed. I wasn’t there to see this, but apparently my box got so full that it broke — like exploded — and they had to get another box. I remember just being overwhelmed emotionally when friends told me. I cried … It was a lot more emotional than I expected.
Why did you continue creating after that?
It was a calming, soothing experience, and it was also partly because a friend had asked if I would donate some pieces.
Most of your works are created for fundraising purposes. What motivates you to be so charitable with your artwork?
Maybe it was because of the Omelette Party, but I just thought, you know, this would be a great philanthropic exercise … There’s always the debate in the art community about donating versus not — and I support whatever an artist wants to do with their work. For me, it’s no different than writing somebody a check for $1,000. I mean, it’s something I made with my hands, right? I donate to organizations that I love or that people that I love are involved in.
How has your artistic style evolved?
For the first three years, everything was white; everything was watercolor paper. The flowers were mostly small and, you know, people give you advice: “Make some bigger ones,” or “Why don’t you do things in color?”
How do your materials and designs come together?
It’s just something that sort of happens, just sort of organically … I’ll think, you know, it’s all figured out and then something else happens where I’ll do something different.
I think it’s fascinating, too, what different papers will do. If I’m using images out of a book or a magazine or whatever, you see these colors. But then, when you cut it out, you’re not seeing those colors or that part of it in the full context of everything else. The colors look different or the pattern looks different … I just keep getting surprised. Over time, there’s just always something new.
Why do you incorporate your wife’s name, Blossom, into your artwork titles?
Well, she’s the most important person, and I just love her name. I love her and who she is. She is supportive of everything I do. Sometimes I’ll get stuck on something, like a color or paper — when you need to talk through something, I trust her, and I get inspired by her and from her in different ways.