Though his art can be spotted across the globe, artist Mas Paz calls Arlington home.
Mas Paz, whose real name is Federico Frum, describes his work as indigenous contemporary art, using graffiti and standard bucket paint as his media.
“I started kind of playing with this indigenous typography kind of style, which wasn’t graffiti letters but more like line work letters,” Frum said of his early graffiti tagging days during a trip to Brazil. “[It] kind of looked like maybe Mayan hieroglyphic lines with actually letters. So that was really fun.”
His work has been featured at the Smithsonian Institution, the Corcoran Gallery Art, and New York City’s The New Museum, but his murals can be found as far away as Pakistan and Mexico and as closeby as Crystal City. Frum has traveled the world to teach mural workshops, and in February he was invited by the American embassy in El Salvador to teach children how to paint street murals.
Born in Bogota, Colombia, Frum — whose pseudonym means “more peace” in Spanish — was adopted when he was a year old and raised in Arlington. He graduated from George Mason University with a degree in art and visual technology in 2005.
Frum moved to Brooklyn a year after graduating, living there for seven years while selling t-shirts on the street in between 3D modeling and screen printing. He then traveled through South America before returning to Arlington ready to come home. He now works out of his house in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood.
“I was really hungry to do a lot of projects here in D.C.,” Frum said. “I’m so happy I’m back here and it’s so cool I can keep it rooted so that where I come from I represent, but also go to places, other countries, or go to other cities and do a lot of work.”
Mas Paz initially started as just Paz, his New York graffiti tag. That was before his friend Youth Waste approached him to create his own stickers, and Paz didn’t fit neatly on the square template that they wanted. That’s when Frum decided to send more of a message, adding the mas to paz. Frum also wanted a message so in 2012 when he added Mas Paz, which translates to more peace in English, he had found the right fit and meaning.
Indigenous art has become a way for Frum to express and explore who he is, even though there are pieces of him he will never truly know, such as where exactly he was born. Five percent of all his project earnings go toward the orphanage that he lived in as a child, La Casa de La Madre y El Nino.
There are no days off for Frum, but he says that it never feels like he’s working when he’s making art. The work makes the days fly by, and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“I intend to be 90 years old and still creating,” he said.