The Art of Resilience features works by Charlie V. Rose, Pie Herring, Migwa Nthiga, Anyango Mipinga, Elias Mung’ora, Dennis Muraguri, Paul Onditi, and Joel Kioko and is curated by Laura Day Webb.
The exhibition captures the stories and faces of individuals living and working around Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya, as well as the tangible shift in the environment from the bustling streets of pre-Coronavirus Kenya to the ongoing challenges and resilience of Kenya’s communities.
The mediums used in this exhibition are wide-ranging and weave together to form a more cohesive narrative of life in Kenya pre and post-pandemic. Filmmaker Charlie V. Rose, and painter Pie Herring, traveled to Lewa and its surrounding communities to capture subjects on the ground in December 2020. Rose’s short film, and Herring’s artworks, feature individuals from school teachers to rangers sharing their stories and the challenges exacerbated by the pandemic while underneath a steady thrum of optimism and strength remains across their shared experiences.
Alongside Rose and Herring, photographer Migwa Nthiga also visited the communities to meet with and capture the subjects in photos in complement to their shared testimony. These individuals and their stories are the backbone of the exhibition.
In acknowledgment of the women who make up the majority of the exhibition and who have remained stalwart in the face of the pandemic, fashion designer Anyango Mpinga honors them with her contribution. Mpinga is known for her eco-friendly fashion collections, featuring architectural elements infused with her takes on traditional prints. Her limited-edition prints designed for this exhibition are a physical memorial to the women persevering to have an active role in Kenyan society outside the home.
Building on the lives portrayed, the exhibition also examines the environmental elements that infuse communities. Elias Mung’ora explores the everyday life of Nairobi’s citizens through his canvases full of vibrant color capturing the chaos and buzz of the bustling city streets of the pre-Coronavirus era. He examines how spaces have been adapted over time and imprints a sense of their past lives in his works.
Digging deeper into the urban realm, Dennis Muraguri captures through his prints the matatus which are the primary means of transportation in Kenya. These private buses are vital in a country with a lack of public transportation and a cultural symbol. However, with unregulated transportation and the increasing effects of climate change, pollution is a growing concern in Nairobi and other cities across the globe.
It is also the theme that takes center stage in the work of Paul Onditi. Using mixed media to create complex works, he portrays the degradation of the planet, the decay of cities, and the degeneration of the natural world.
In contrast to the environmental concerns at the forefront of Onditi’s work, the exhibition closes with Joel Kioko, a rising ballet star who has catapulted to fame with his athletic leaps. Kioko’s choreography and rousing performance acknowledge the challenges faced but look to the future with unwavering hope.
About Charlie V. Rose
Charlie V. Rose (b.1994, Nairobi, Kenya)
Charlie is a BAFTA-nominated videographer who has worked with brands including Johnnie Walker and Mercedes, as well as film stars such as Liam Neeson.
Rose has a passion for conservation and previously cycled 8000km up Africa, through nine countries, filming rangers and locals caught in the cross-fire of the poaching crisis, raising over $70,000 for ranger welfare in the process.
About Migwa Nthiga
Migwa Nthiga (b. 1987, Nairobi, Kenya)
Migwa Nthiga is a documentary portrait and commercial photographer. Migwa creates thought provoking imagery that presents the viewer with different perspectives while eliciting a deep emotional response from his audience.
Nthiga's work has been featured in Safaricom's "Capture Kenya" initiative for three consecutive years and he is a Sony World Photography Award winner. Migwa has been published in a variety of publications including National Geographic.
About Pie Herring
Pie Herring (b. 1995, London, UK)
Predominantly working in oils, Pie’s paintings depict tender portrayals of human and societal issues. Interested in the deconstruction and removal of paint, Pie strips background information to place emphasis on interrelationship and emotion. Each piece begins with a dynamic landscape of paint, large brushstrokes move widespread across the canvas, and puddles of turps dry to form unpredictable meandering marks. The figural composition is then considered in relation to this field of paint. Her practice continues to explore the synergy of gestural mark-making and more detailed brushwork.
Herring's Work has been shown in various exhibitions including a solo show at DOK Artist Space and a group show at Oxo Gallery. Her work was also selected for the Royal Scottish Academy's New Contemporaries Exhibition in 2019.
About Dennis Muraguri
Dennis Muraguri (b. 1980, Nairobi, Kenya)
Dennis Muraguri is a mixed media artist working primarily in printmaking and sculpture. Muraguri's woodcuts bring to life the energy of the social phenomenon of Matatu's, Kenya's primary means of transportation, with vibrant, bold colors that beg the viewer to ponder the impact of our urban existence.
Muraguri has exhibited extensively and has participated in international art fairs such as Intersect Chicago (2020), 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair, London (2016), and Jo'burg Art Fair (2016).
About Paul Onditi
Paul Onditi (b. 1980, Nairobi, Kenya)
Paul Onditi creates complex works that challenge our understanding of both our cultural topography and the physical world within which we exist. Working on his preferred canvas of digital polyester inkjet plates, Onditi composes intricate and complex masterpieces portraying societal chaos and decay.
Onditi has participated in many exhibitions including African Metropolic: An Imaginary City, Rome (2018), 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London (2018), the Dak'Art Biennale, Senegal (2018), VOLTA (2017), and La Venice Biennale (2017).
About Elias Mung'ora
Elias Mung'ora (b. 1992, Nairobi, Kenya)
Elias Mung'ora's canvases attempt to show both the traces left behind of previous lives and histories, while simultaneously juxtaposing the imbalance of physical spaces and the impact of this imbalance on their inhabitants.
Mung'ora has participated in various exhibitions including the Ghost in the Machine, Montague Contemporary, USA (2020); Kikulacho, British Institute in East Africa (2018); Remains, Waste & Metonymy II: Sensing Nairobi, British Institute in East Africa (2017); and Stranger Times, Circle Art Gallery (2017).
About Anyango Mpinga
Anyango Mpinga (b. 1983, London, UK)
Anyango Mpinga is an eco-innovator who has embraced the principles of circular fashion to explore radical systems in textile design with the conscious consumer in mind. As a forward-thinking designer, Mpinga is also exploring the use of emerging technologies to create biodegradable textiles.
As part of her mission to serve grassroots communities, her company implements the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, notably advocating for Gender Equality and eliminating violence against women.
About Joel Kioko
Joel Kioko (b. 2000, Nairobi, Kenya)
Joel Kioko, a rising ballet star who has catapulted to fame with his athletic leaps. Hailing from a poor neighborhood in Nairobi, Joel's ascendancy was born out of raw talent, discipline and love for his craft.
The ballet prodigy is a recent graduate of the prestigious English National Ballet School and is now a member of the world renowned Joffrey Studio Company in Chicago.
About Laura Day Webb
Laura Day Webb is pursuing her Master's in Art Business at Sotheby's Institute of Art in NYC and is an independent curator with a passon for contemporary African art.
Day Webb is the Brand and Partnerships Lead for newcube, a digital platform that champions emerging artists by providing career development, placing them in reputable collections and promoting their stories through curated intiatives. In addition to her work with newcube, Day Webb is the Content Manager at Friend of the Artist. There, she oversees the Studio Image Project, an online portal and volume which showcases the studio spaces of emerging artists worldwide.