This exhibition foregrounds Wangechi Mutu’s current practice in earth and bronze sculptures, which populate Storm King’s expansive landscape. Mutu’s work reverently engages with the natural world to address ideas of mythology, ritual, and historical violence and its impact on women, their inextricable relationships with our ecosystems. Mutu rejects hierarchies among living things, whether human, plant, or animal. The artist molds her ideas and materials to assert the existence and cultural relevance of ancient original myths, fables, and histories derived from African art.
For the indoor portion of the exhibition, Mutu brings the natural world inside through both raw materials and visual representations. Storm King’s Museum Building galleries are inhabited by Mutu’s earthworks, animalesque creatures, and humanoids made from soil, wood, paper pulp, horn, and bone, all collected around the artist’s studio in Kenya. Two films that feature the artist in different forms and guises offer portals into imagined and mythological landscapes. Other works remind viewers that nature has for centuries been a locus of colonialism and acts of violence.
Sited outside on Museum Hill–on land that is the ancestral home of the Lenape–are eight of Mutu’s large-scale cast bronze works. Installed in the context of Storm King’s fields, meadows, woods, and ponds, these sculptures take on new resonance, while adding layers of meaning to the site’s existing ecologies and histories, including the consideration of the site and region as colonized land. Mutu envisions landscape as a fertile backdrop for reflecting, mythmaking, and setting the scene in which women become powerful and autonomous protagonists, and global indigeneity is centered. This juxtaposition asserts the importance of experiences, perspectives, and knowledge systems excluded from dominant narratives, and the capacity to imagine not only new worlds but more equitable versions of our own.
The Wangechi Mutu exhibition is made possible by generous lead support from
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Support is also provided by the Helis Foundation.