Today on Studio Sunday, join us for a look into the studio of Wangechi Mutu. Mutu is well known for her large, sometimes quirky, sometimes grotesque collaged images.
Despite their almost alien appearance, Mutu’s works often address issues that are pertinent to the world today, including feminist dialogues and the representation of women and minority groups. She gleans a lot of her material from contemporary media, and cutouts from every kind of popular magazine you can imagine are strewn across her studio space, littering the tables and floor.
Mutu’s studio space, then, as you can imagine, is large and brightly lit, with a big table space for working. Inspirational items from materials and images, to works in progress hang from walls on all sides. She generally pastes her collages onto Mylar, a smooth, synthetic surface, and adds touches of other mixed media, such as paint, or textured products glued onto the surface.
The artwork of Wangechi Mutu achieves the “uncanny valley” effect, where the viewer knows that they’re looking at a human form, yet one that seems too bizarre to be real. The figures are often made up of a mixture of cutouts of human body parts, and cutouts of other objects and machines. Even body parts, though, might stand in for other ones (some figures have arms for noses, fingers for mouths, etc. In this way Mutu subverts the idea of how women are portrayed in media, often heavily photo-shopped or with their images skewed almost beyond recognition.