“Females carry the marks, language and nuances of their culture more than the male. Anything that is desired or despised is always placed on the female body.” - Wangechi Mutu
I can't remember where I first heard of Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu, but I remember the first artwork I saw of hers:
Its title is "Misguided Little Unforgivable Hierarchies". I find it at once beautiful and disturbing, and absolutely compelling. Mutu says this work "...is a piece that I did around the time that I was very frustrated and angry with the fact that the US, where I live, had decided to pull itself into another war. I was really angry. There are a lot of explosions in my work: They look like blood spurts, but also, from a distance, like blossoms. A lot of my work shows these humanoid, animal-type creatures sitting/standing on top of each other, like the caste systems that we have. As much as we talk about democracy and freedom, we still have no problem mistreating and devaluing people."
The vibrant colors that Mutu uses in this piece belie the subject matter. It's a disturbing scene - what looks like a human figure about to be eaten by another, while a third figure rides on top of the second figure. Yet it's also quite delicate in the way the figures all balance atop each other, and even in the way the bottom figure squats. It's this mixture of beauty and violence and a bit of terror that really resonates with me.
There's a really great interview with Wangechi Mutu on Mother Jones from back in 2013 - please check it out here: https://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/10/interview-collage-artist-wangechi-mutu-fantastic-journey/