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When artist Thandiwe Muriu learned to use a digital camera at age 14, she was instantly enamored. Growing up in the Kenyan capital city of Nairobi, she would photograph objects around her as well as her sisters. Although there was no school for photography in Kenya, Thandiwe devoured any resources available and taught herself. She then began to shoot commercially, becoming one of the few female commercial photographers in Kenya. Now, the artist creates beautiful images that highlight her culture and personal journey.
In her photography, Thandiwe showcases beautiful African textiles and everyday objects. The photographer uses these to create colorful, arresting images. In these images, the subjects wear clothing made from the same fabric as the background. However, rather than blending in, this almost makes the women stand out more. Additionally, humble everyday items such as hair combs are repurposed to feature in the photos. Although the photographs may appear to be digitally altered, they are not. Instead, great care is taken to create each illusion.
While the objects featured in the photos may be easily accessible ones, the photos are carefully constructed and curated. Thandiwe carefully selects and alters the hairstyles, fabrics, and other items. Each object is imbued with meaning. The artist carefully weaves together her culture and personal identity.
Many of Thandiwe’s photos deal with beauty and different interpretations of beauty. She often shoots the model with their eyes covered. This is because she wants the subject to be viewed as a representation of all women according to an interview she gave to Vogue.
Thandiwe’s works offer a fun and thoughtful insight into Kenyan culture. The artist continues to live in Kenya where she teaches workshops. Her works can be seen featured in several art collections. These include Fondation Gandur from Switzerland, UHODA collection from Belgium, The Hood Museum of Art in the USA, and The Contemporary African Art collection by Pigozzi.
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