Sophia Sattar: Painting Home | KALW

Sophia Sattar: Painting Home

Mar 27, 2014

Sophia Sattar was born in Karachi, Pakistan to an Indian mother and Pakistani father who were both doctors, and she loved to paint. But, living in a world where you were groomed from childhood to become a doctor or an engineer, being an artist was out of the question.

 That is, until she was ready for college. She asked her mother to put her through an expensive Karachi art school, and her mother thought to ask her father. Sophia says that conversation went like this: 

"'Sophia wants to go to arts school, will you pay her fees?' He was walking across the room, didn't even stop, didn't look at me and said, 'No, I  will not'. We were both sitting there and my heart just stopped! And my mother turned around and said, 'Don't worry I'll put you through school.'" 

So, Sophia went to art school and then moved to the United States At first, she wasn’t sure what to paint in this new land, but when September 11th happened, she knew. She decided to create art that reflected her Pakistani heritage and Muslim faith as a response to the Islamophobia that she personally experienced.

Sattar went to the Academy of Arts in San Francisco, and almost immediately landed shows in galleries around the Bay Area, including the De Young Museum. Her abstract oil paintings are splashed with bold contrasting colors - bright reds, greens, and purples - reflecting, she says, a uniquely Pakistani style of truck art she remembers as a child in Karachi. She recalls that when she was young, the country had one or two art galleries, so the place where she was regularly exposed to art was on these elaborately painted trucks that zoomed by on the streets. Truck drivers, she said, took pride in painting their trucks from top to bottom, front to back in bold color, intricate patterns and glitter, shimmering as they drove by, blasting their horns. In addition to that folk art, she is also inspired by her Muslim faith as she layers on Islamic calligraphy prints over the bright oil colors.

SOPHIA SATTAR: "The most difficult part for the artist is to decide when it is done... It does happen. I'm sure that everybody has this 'A-ha' moment. So, I keep waiting for that 'Aha' moment."

Click the player above to listen to the full interview.

You can find more of Sophia's art on her website.