Wangechi Mutu’s bronze sculptures populate the Storm King Art Center with mythical creatures

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#bronze #colonialism #mythology #nature #sculpture

June 22, 2022

Grace Ebert

“In Two Canoes” (2022). All images courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, by David Regen, shared with permission

Storm King Art Center is located on the ancestral homelands of the Lenape, a reference point to which Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu returns for a new exhibition at the Hudson Valley Open Air Museum. The largely bronze oeuvre, consisting of her signature sculptures of immense hybrid figures, focuses on colonialism and the inseparable link between people and the land.

Constantly invoking nature and mythology to address historical issues of contemporary importance, Mutu positions women as the most powerful, respecting their physical form and emphasizing their innate connection to ecology. The artist’s latest work, “In Two Canoe,” shows a pair of figures with branch-like appendages equally astride a skinny barrel, their faces wrapped in mangrove leaves. “This factory has moved everywhere, making journeys like those who were kidnapped from Africa and brought to America. The water seals this unified story that we have created for ourselves. We are all connected on this globe of the Earth and the water is how we are going to find each other,” Mutu said in an interview.

Also on the Museum Hill site is the royal “Crocodylus”, a slender reptilian creature that faces a gap in the trees. The scaly shape corresponds to the massive coiled serpent occupying ‘Nyoka’, one of five sculptural baskets scattered across the meadow. Inside the center are smaller pottery built with natural materials such as bone and earth collected near her studio in Nairobi.

Mutu’s sculptures will be on display at Storm King until November 7, and she will host a film screening at the museum on September 3. To follow her practice, visit Instagram.

“Crocodiles” (2020)

“In Two Canoes” (2022)

Shavasana II (2019)

Detail of “Nyoka” (2022)

“Crocodiles” (2020)

Detail of “Shavasana II” (2019)

“Snake” (2022)

#bronze #colonialism #mythology #nature #sculpture

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