Kenyan-born, Brooklyn-based artist Wangechi Mutu’s collages ebb and flow with beauty and horror. She cobbles together images of monstrous temptresses from sources as disparate as original paintings, found objects, wildlife photography, and even porn. These seductive yet tortured characters, according to the artist, are meant to illuminate the ugly effects the legacy of colonialism has had on society’s view of black, female bodies in particular. Her women hide in fields and swamps, seeming to flee from an unwelcoming civilization.
“Many people ask me, ‘how do you do these pretty things and mix them with the violence?’. Because it is how they are. And for many people it just perhaps costs too much to look at reality,” said Mutu in a 2014 interview with Mail & Guardian. In hybridizing images of women with plants, animals, and machines, she critiques the ways that black women have been simultaneously vilified and sexualized throughout history as well as in contemporary popular culture. Take a look at her recent collages as well as a video she collaborated on with singer Santigold.