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Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga

Born in 1960, Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga grew up among the Kikuyu people of Kenya. She first    studied art at the University of Nairobi, Kenya before continuing her studies at UCLA, USA. She now lives and works in San Antonio, Texas. Gakunga has displayed works in numerous exhibitions in the USA, France, Brazil and Poland.

Her works are predominantly wall-hanging sculptures ingeniously created from tin cans, steel wire and oxidised sheet metal. Galvanised sheet metal, known in Swahili as mabati, is used mainly for roofing materials and walls. The material is particularly associated with the Mabati Womens Group and their empowering community housing projects of the ‘60s. Gakunga observed the success of their efforts, the harvesting of water from the new roofs and the consequent ageing of the material itself. Mirroring these weathering effects in her own artistic process, she deliberately saturates rolls of sheet metal in water, a process that oxidises the submerged surfaces, occasionally adding dyes to create different colours and other more complex effects. The delicate transformations etched in metal by the corrosive effects of water, chance and time, emphasise an ethereal, transient beauty. Another significant material found in these works is fibre or string.Gakunga continues to use string and ribbons as primary materials within her work, acknowledging the contemporary in her usage of fine grade metal wires.

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