MasterMinds 2017: Asif Farooq Is Building a Life-Size Russian Fighter Jet With Paper and Glue

MasterMinds 2017 finalist Asif Farooq
MasterMinds 2017 finalist Asif Farooq Photo by Monica McGivern

The finalists in New Times' eighth-annual MasterMind Awards are a diverse bunch, representing the best locally created culture in South Florida. A group of editors and critics chose these nine talents from a pool of more than 80 applicants. The three winners, who will each receive a $750 grant, will be announced live onstage at Artopia, presented by Miracle Mile Downtown Coral Gables this Thursday at the Coral Gables Museum. The finalists will show off their work at the event. Here's what you’ll see.

Asif Farooq, a contemporary artist and expert craftsman from Miami, is creating a life-size Soviet-era jet made entirely from paper and glue. So, yeah, you could say he doesn't exactly shy away from a meticulous art project.

It takes a certain kind of artist to dedicate himself to a project containing 300,000 handmade pieces. Making things, according to Farooq, is what art is all about.

"I like the absurdity of making things, sometimes badly, while the world becomes ever more refined," Farooq says. "I appreciate when art evidences a real-world awareness. Different art means different things, right? Art that is allowed to be vulnerable and uncalculating is the most satisfying to me."

Farooq's meticulous erecting of his fully functional duplicate of the Warsaw Pact MiG-21 supersonic fighter, a project titled Balalika, is only the most recent example of the awe-inspiring contemporary art that Farooq creates in the hopes of inspiring an audience. Since Farooq was a child impressing his classmates with his highly detailed sketches of Lamborghinis, the goal has been to make an impact on others in a way that makes them think rather than react.

"Perhaps I might gently nudge them into questioning their assumptions," Farooq says. "I have no hopes or illusions about what people will do with it; projecting my insecurities onto the final disposition of what I make is toxic in my practice. Honestly, rather than provoking a reaction, I'd prefer a thoughtful response. Notwithstanding the importance of knowing one's audience, it is more important for me to know myself in order to be a good artist. It has to do with the difference between being strategic or being real."

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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi