Born Nairobi, Kenya, 1972. Lives New York
You tried so hard to make us away, 2005
Ink, acrylic, glitter, fur, contact paper and collage on Mylar
88 x 51 - ¼ inches
Collection Miami Art Museum, museum purchase with funds from the MAM Collectors Council and the New Work series
Credit line: Reproduced with the permission of the artist.
Photo credit: Mariano Costa Peuser
Wangechi Mutu uses a combination of collage, ink, acrylic and other media to create fantastical images that reflect the collision in the mass media between fashion, glamour, the obsession with personal appearance and violence, conflict, and suffering. Her elegantly grotesque figures underscore the clash between Western ideals of beauty and well-being and African reality.
Mutu's collaged figures are assembled from images of face and body parts cut out from sources as diverse as Glamour, Vogue, and National Geographic, and coffee table travel books and motorcycle magazines. These are mixed with hand-rendered ink, acrylic and watercolor passages that recall everything from body wounds and lesions to elaborately patterned fabrics. Mutu's women sport the slender, elongated proportions, full lips, and mascaraed eyes of runway models, but their distortions reflect the physical and psychological deformations imposed on women by the extreme emphasis on physical appearance in contemporary society. Creating unlikely connections between such topics as the demand for luxury goods and the violence that wracks contemporary Africa, Mutu highlights the complex interplay between the political, the social, the cultural, the sexual, and the personal.