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 Wangechi Mutu  (1973 - )

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Lived/Active: New York / Kenya      Known for: large-scale figurative collage, feminist themed work

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Living in Brooklyn, Wangechi Mutu was raised in Nairobi, Kenya and came to the United States when she was age 19. She is a collage artist, painter and sculptor of site-specific installations.

Her subjects usually focus on human behavior and often depict African-American women with a disturbing twist to many viewers.

Her work has been described as looking like a "living junkyard surrounded by a swarm of butterflies. . . the decorative nature of Mutu's figures is at odds with the smaller, grotesque pieces they are made of."

Source:
Carmela Ciuraru, ARTnews, November 2004, p. 116

Biography from Brooklyn Museum:
A native of Nairobi, Kenya, Wangechi Mutu received her MFA degree from Yale University in 2000 and her BFA at Cooper Union College, New York. She has had solo exhibitions at the Miami Art Museum and at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Mutu recently participated in the SITE Santa Fe Biennial, Still Points in the Turning World: SITE Santa Fe’s Sixth Annual Biennial, curated by Klaus Ottmann, in July 2006, as well as USA Today at the Royal Academy of the Arts, London UK and 2nd Biennial Contemporary Art in Seville, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Sevilla, Spain.

She has had solo exhibitions at institutions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Miami Art Museum; and ArtPace, San Antonio. Mutu’s work is in public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

She lives and works in New York.

Feminist Artist Statement
To me the female figure is enchanting and power-filled, it astounds me, it baffles me. When I was nineteen I saw middle-aged women in Nairobi protesting their children’s detention at a notorious torture prison. They slowly put a curse out- by disrobing and exposing their bodies- causing the riot police to freak out and flee. I’m interested in how the female body is enhanced and contorted for historical and cultural purposes.

From: Wangechi Mutu, interview by Kirsten Fricke, “Sex Sells,” Beautiful Decay, December 2005 issue


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