KENYA-BASED ARTIST MALIZA KIASUWA REFLECTS ON HERITAGE, LOCAL MATERIALS, AND THE GLOBAL CIRCULATION OF OBJECTS
Positing discarded materials as salvaged histories, Pride of Origins contemplates
the ongoing inequalities of exchange between Africa and the Western world
Washington, DC – Morton Fine Art (52 O Street NW #302) is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new mixed-media works by Kenya-based visual artist Maliza Kiasuwa. Featuring twenty-one works by the artist, Pride of Origins recreates the precarious and ever-evolving equilibrium between the handmade and the manufactured through the juxtaposition of material. Underscoring the cultural and commercial exchange between continents, Kiasuwa’s technically masterful works explore the ironies of post-colonial politics and invent new futures through imbrication, embroidery, and the combination of heterogenous objects. Pride of Origins will be on view from June 2 – June 30, 2021.
Kiasuwa’s constructions are deeply rooted in the cultural, social, and political context of Kenya, but more generally of Africa and the world. Combining handmade materials from Japan with found objects from around her farm on Lake Naivasha, in the heart of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, Kiasuwa embraces her chosen material’s earlier character and vocabulary, but transfigures their context by sewing, stitching and mending to produce unexpected narratives and representations of society, events, and global issues. As a visual artist of European and African descent, Kiasuwa brings a panoptic perspective to her border-crossing work, which regards the coexistence of two worlds as an endless source of inspiration, and a potential space for reconciliation.
“My sculptures and collages are made of bits and pieces that I collect during my daily expeditions: cotton threads, handmade ropes made of straw or rubber, plastic bags stranded on the lake shore,” said visual artist Maliza Kiasuwa. “These materials are representative of culture and history in the context of the global flow of goods, especially in terms of how their utility values shift over time. Sometimes I combine local materials with handmade fabrics such as Japanese Washi paper. I like to blend materials which don’t belong together.”
Presenting all new work from 2021, Pride of Origins unveils recent developments in Kiasuwa’s practice, which is an ongoing examination of her identity as a woman of both African and European descent, scrutinizing the meaning of duality and otherness. The very distinct, but sometimes rival, traditions of local culture and the Church similarly ungird the artist’s exploration of a “double belonging.” Pride of Origin honors the raw, natural beauty of the artist’s environment, while also challenging assumptions of value in material culture to highlight the interconnectedness of the post-colonial landscape and its inheritance of consumer society.
ABOUT MALIZA KIASUWA
Maliza Kiasuwa, born in 1975, is a visual artist of European and African descent. She lives and works in Kenya. She creates works with stimulating and eclectic elements celebrating Africa’s mystic power of nature by using raw materials and traditional symbols of energy that flow through the veins of the continent. She transforms everyday articles by combining reductive methods of shredding and twisting with constructive processes of tying, weaving, stitching and dyeing. The process is fluid, focused and becomes a meditation. Maliza Kiasuwa has exhibited in Kenya, Switzerland, Italy, England and the United States. She has been represented by Morton Fine Art since 2021.