Wangechi Mutu, Untitled (Tumor), 2006. Ink, acrylic, paper, and mixed media on Mylar. 55 x 87 1/4 inches (139.7 x 221.6 cm). Gift of Jerome and Ellen Stern. Courtesy of the artist © Wangechi Mutu
Wangechi Mutu’s multidisciplinary practice addresses issues of gender, race, power, and survival. Born in 1972 in Nairobi, Kenya, Mutu moved to the United States in 1992 to study art, and now works between Nairobi and New York City. Her maximalist aesthetic defies strict classification and is rooted in feminism and Afro-futurism. First gaining attention for hybridized collages of figures set in otherworldly landscapes, Mutu has developed a wide-ranging visual language that merges African and Western idioms, foregrounds materiality and sensuality, and touches on such issues as colonialism, violence, ecology, and mythology. Untitled (Tumor) resembles a fleshy tumor with sprouting hair or a floating ball of earth with tangled roots. This work embodies Mutu’s widespread interest in sampling liberally from existing textual sources. Here, she samples from medical illustrations, nature magazines, and high fashion to produce an otherworldly landscape that merges nature and the human body.