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Wangechi Mutu

Wangechi Mutu’s practice includes collage-paintings, videos, sculptures, and performances. The main themes of Mutu’s work derive from her experiences living and attending schools in different countries including Kenya, Wales, and the United States. For Mutu, immigration is an experience full of re-definition and re-creation, and in her work it manifests through her use of fracture and re-assemblage, both practical and psychological. Her work relies on her insight into the complicated exchanges and contributions that Africa and Africans have made to the United States the vast expense of then exporting those contributions back to Africa and the rest of the world. Mutu’s work is bound to an understanding of the historical use and misuse of the female subject, gender imbalance, cultural constructs, and the environment. A new set of works, The NewOnes, will free Us, was commissioned in 2019 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, to occupy the long-vacant niches of the museum’s facade. Mutu’s work has been exhibited worldwide in galleries and institutions such as the Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Miami Art Museum (now Pérez Art Museum Miami); Tate Modern, London; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Tate Modern, among others. Mutu earned a BFA from Cooper Union, New York (1996), and an MFA in sculpture from Yale School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut (2000). 

Courtesy Prospect New Orleans.


Crescent Park Trail, Rusty Rainbow Bridge, New Orleans, LA 70117


Created 2020; Documented 2021


Photographer(s): Jonathan Traviesa, Neysa Page-Lieberman


Crocodylus is a bronze sculpture (73 x 167 x 87 inches) that fuses the forms of a reptile and a human female, both covered in striations that evoke the tides of the Mississippi River. The project was specifically commissioned for Prospect.5: Yesterday we said tomorrow, 2021–22.


For this sculpture, Mutu drew connections between a prehistoric crocodile found in Northern Kenya and its relative in the Bayou, the alligator, a creature connected to ideas of power and stealth, as well as terror—in the American South there are records of babies of enslaved Black people having been used as bait to capture these animals. With this history in mind, Mutu sought to harness the animal’s strength and beauty as an otherworldly femme-reptilian hybrid, inspired by multitudes of crocodile deities, including the Egyptian god Sobek, who appears as a masculine figure with a crocodile head, as well as the goddess Ganga of the sacred Ganges River. The sculpture signals a new mythology, imagining Black feminine power and sovereignty through transformation.

Courtesy Prospect New Orleans. 


Black Feminism



This project was specifically commissioned for Prospect.5: Yesterday we said tomorrow, 2021–22. Promised gift to the New Orleans Museum of Art, courtesy of Sydney and Walda Besthoff. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.




Artist: Wangechi Mutu; Photographer(s): Jonathan Traviesa, Neysa Page-Lieberman