An Evening with Wangechi Mutu

one of the great things about moving to Boston is that i have opportunities to tap into the many schools that make up this city.  earlier this week, i attended a lecture hosted by MassArt.  the speaker was Wangechi Mutu, an artist whose work i have admired for some time.  she is a couple of years older than me and i often imagine perhaps her paths and mine crossed during our childhood in Nairobi. :)  her works have often felt familiar yet strange to me.  they feel very organic and fluid, qualities that i strive to achieve in my own work.  it was wonderful to hear Wangechi Mutu talk, especially about her inspirations and the motivations behind some of her pieces.  it helped to add depth to my understanding of her work.  she has a beautiful website which you can find here.

below is one of her works, titled: My Strength Lies, 2006.

i have a new project in the works.  it is again an evidence of the opportunities that surround me.  you might be interested to know that it's a medium where i am able to marry my writing with my art. :)  will share soon!

A little bit about "Meanderings"...

i thought you'd enjoy a little background info about this new series of abstract watercolor paintings i've been working on.  you can see them individually on my Saatchi gallery.  they started off as experiments in colour and as i finished off several of them, i noticed that the colours had some specific geographical roots.  

"Meanderings, No. 1" and "Meanderings, No. 2" have definite roots in the winters of Wisconsin.  my years in Madison taught me to survive the stark cold colourlessness of the Wisconsin winter, yet i found so much beauty in those winters and i hope the small bits of colour coming through reflect that.

"Meanderings, No.3" and "Meanderings, No. 4" were inspired by my recent visits to the beaches of Massachusetts.  rather than focusing on the water, i was drawn to the rocks that were being washed by the waves.

"Meanderings, No. 5", "Meanderings, No. 6" and "Meanderings, No. 7" so clearly have their roots in my years in Kenya.  the browns, reds and yellows will always evoke my childhood there, but i think the vibrancy of the colours are from looking back with the lenses of memory.  Kenya will always be a place of beautiful bright colours.

these paintings are also about the process.  most of the time, i start out a painting or art piece with a definite finished image in mind.  with this series, i had some idea, but left the colours to spread as they wanted to with the spreading of the water.  it was really freeing to not be concerned about how the colours would spread and to find surprising interesting details in the way the colours bled into one another.

the days have been cold and bleak here, so i have been filling my mind with all the colours you see here.  hope they bring a spot of colour into your day as well. :)

Thoughts for Kenya and last week's event

i had meant to write a post about the opening of Madison Central Public Library, and i will, but i have been sidetracked by the horrific events that took place in Nairobi.  if you have been following the news, you have heard of the attack on Westgate Mall by terrorists. you've probably seen photos of the injured and the dead and watched the movie clips of the activities at the mall.  

i remember going to that mall when visiting my parents in Nairobi.  i have even taken our daughter there and i am grieved to hear that the terrorists attacked on a day when there was a children's activity at the mall.  but such is the working of terrorists' minds.  i had hoped with all my heart that all the hostages would have been released by now, but the siege continues today.  i can only continue to hope that the terrorists will be overpowered soon and fear replaced with justice and order.  i am grateful that no one i know has been hurt by this, but i know many who knew someone that died in the attack.  and i know this mainly through Facebook.  i am sort of reeling from how FB puts me in touch with what is going on in Nairobi, but at the same time, i am living far away, in Wisconsin.  

the tension of being pulled by two physical locations and two emotions, one of grieving for what's happening in one place and one of celebrating something going on in another, is very disconcerting but i think is very much what life is.  while we grieve over someone's death, we can at the same time, be celebrating the birth of another life.  so, while i grieve over what is going on in Nairobi, i am celebrating something in Madison. 

this past weekend, the brand new Madison Central Public Library opened its doors, after being closed for 2 years for renovations.  when i attended STACKED, i couldn't quite believe my eyes to see all the people queued up to get in.  the line ran all the way down one side of the library wall and completely around the corner!  it was great to see so many people excited about the public library!!!  how often does a library fill up with hundreds of people?  i don't have an official number for the attendance that night, but it seems there were over a thousand people, close to 1500. :)  and it was fun to be in a space that still smells new.  here are some photos from that night, a mix of shots from my phone and camera.