(Kenyan, b. 1972)
Visual contemporary artist Wangechi Mutu was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1972. She travelled to New York in the early 1990s to continue her studies in Fine Art. In 1996 she received her bachelor’s degree from Cooper Union and later went on to obtain her master’s at Yale University in 2000.
Mutu is internationally celebrated for her work that explores the themes of race, colonialism, gender, and politics in both Western and African cultures. Her body of work spans across multiple platforms, including painting, collage, film, performance, and sculpture. Through the use of found materials, magazine clippings and painted imagery, Mutu is best known for her investigation into the misrepresentation and hyper-objectification of the black female figure within contemporary society. Often these materials are embedded with cultural significance, such as synthetic hair, feathers, Kenyan soil, and tea. At times Mutu intentionally depicts the female figure as distorted or grotesque to highlight and embrace its imperfections and flaws. In doing so, Mutu creates a breed of science-fiction figures, placing her work within the realms of Afrofuturism.
Mutu lives and works between Nairobi and Brooklyn, enjoying international success with exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Staatliche Kunstahalle Baden-Baden, among others. In 2013 she was awarded a major mid-career retrospective held at the Nasher Museum of Art in North Carolina.