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Mumtaz Finds Freedom Creative Expression
Some of us go through life with a sense that something is missing. Perhaps the paths we chose were dictated by society’s norms or familial tradition, but as time passes, our hearts whisper, “Are you following your passion?” Taking that first courageous step toward following our heart’s calling often brings a sense of release and of becoming who we were meant to be. Wife, mother and now artist, Mumtaz Persaud is someone who heeded that quiet yet persistent inner voice and, in finding her passion, now has her first solo art exhibition ‘Carpe Diem’ underway at The Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago in Federation Park.
The fact that the exhibit will have on display some 47 pieces of Mumtaz’s artwork, which she describes as “modern mystical paintings illustrating sensual interpretations of our spiritual identities”, is astonishing given the fact that just over two years ago, she was the typical wife and mother of three -- two girls and a boy ranging in age from 20 to 10. Having completed high school, Mumtaz pursued Accounting and Information Technology, gave birth to her first daughter and settled into married life with days that weren’t much different to most modern working mothers. She divided her life between the office and home taking care of her growing family’s needs.
What most weren’t aware of, however, was Mumtaz’s hidden desire to fulfill her childhood dream. “I always wanted to get into the creative arts. I loved poetry and writing. I wanted to sing, to dance, to paint. As a child, these were the things I wanted to do but never had the opportunity,” she acknowledged, yet simultaneously clarified, “No one stopped me from expressing myself creatively. It was just that when I grew older and entered the career world, my focus changed to providing for and supporting my family.”
Little did Mumtaz imagine that her decision two years ago to stop work and become a full time mother to her children would eventually reawaken that ‘inner creative child’. Change, however, is hardly ever easy and Mumtaz’s transition from the working world to ‘stay-at-home mom’ was initially unsettling. “After so many years of working in an office environment, it was a challenging and somewhat confusing time for me.”
Although born into a large Muslim family of which she was the youngest of six siblings, over time Mumtaz had developed her own sense of spirituality preferring as she put it, “to connect through meditation which I consider my form of prayer.” In elucidating, she added, “I am attuned to nature. This is where I find myself most connected to the Creator of our Universe. When you are attuned with your surroundings and take notice of the simple things in life is when you are closest to God.”
Her sense of oneness with nature is what prompted Mumtaz to retreat with her husband and family to Mayaro in search of resolution to her inner conflict. “I did a lot of meditating and praying for guidance on what to do with my future.” Her answer to her prayers came soon after upon learning she was pregnant with her fourth child, a son now 22 months old. “For me, it was a miraculous piece of news,” Mumtaz recalled, with the joy she then felt reflected in her expression. “It made me suddenly realize that I wanted to record all the imaginations about my journey as a woman and mother that I had held in my mind for so long. I wanted to preserve all those moments and my vehicle for doing so was on canvas, so I started painting.”
Fully supported by her husband and family, Mumtaz has since painted to her heart and soul’s content producing highly emotive abstract works of art, which she says, “reflect an enduring interest in the inexpressible mysteries of life” and which, “although not by design, adopt two distinctively opposite characters: feminine grace at one end and masculine force at the other.” Her ability to creatively portray both sides of life’s spectrum through her use of strong, vivid mainly acrylic hues on canvas may well be a reflection of her spiritual conviction. “I believe that in everything there is balance, that life itself is cyclic and that there is no end,” she explained, mirroring the words of her bio which states, “I paint only what I am inspired to by my life’s unfolding design.”
Like her life, Mumtaz’s means of creative expression is also unfolding. Her works of art as a self-taught artist painting for just 22 months already show a definite signature style, which has caught the eye of well-known local artists like LeRoy Clarke and Glenn Roopchand, whose works she has always admired and connected with because she sees in them a focus on feminism similar to hers. Yet despite her ability to prolifically produce paintings worthy of exhibition, she has found time to write a novel, which she hopes to soon publish, as well as express her feelings through poetry.
Whether it was fate, the conception of her son, divine intervention or all combined that provided the key to unlock Mumtaz’s once smothered yearning to pursue her childhood passion, one may never know for certain but for her, it brings a sense of release and relief. “When I finish a piece, I feel complete. My ability to express myself creatively has changed in my life, made me more confident and gives me sense and purpose. I know that I am doing something that my children are proud of.” Even though she admits that her decision to show her art via her current “Carpe Diem” exhibition has been a somewhat nerve-wrecking experience because both her art as well as her soul will be on display, she is happy to have done it. “Sometimes in our lives, we tend to take our little joyful moments for granted and then, they’re gone. Life is so fleeting so, for me, ‘Carpe Diem’ (seize the day) expresses my message to pause, stop what you’re doing and appreciate the moment… the present.” It is a message many of us may need to heed as we busily go about our high-speed lives often failing to appreciate the little things we take for granted, or to listen to that ‘inner voice’ which may lead us to our true life calling.
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