This collage by Kenyan-born Wangechi Mutu is from a body of work inspired by the popular hymn Amazing Grace, which was written by the captain of a slave ship who eventually became a minister and abolitionist. The important thing for me about Amazing Grace, says Mutu, is that it is rooted in the mud and injustices of a dark convoluted past and yet it has become the most redemptive and ubiquitous of hymns ever... thanks to colonization, missionaries and the translation of the song into every imaginable language. A key symbol in this work is the mangrove tree, a migratory plant common to much of the earth s tropical shorelines, including those of Florida and Africa. Notable for its ability to thrive in brackish environments where salt and fresh water meet and most plants can t grow, Mutu uses the mangrove as a metaphor for the survival and flourishing of African peoples in the Americas in the wake of the slave trade.
You tried so hard to make us away, 2005, 2005
b. 1972, Nairobi, Kenya; lives in New York City
Ink, acrylic, glitter, fur, contact paper and collage on Mylar
88 x 51-1/4 inches
Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with funds from the PAMM Collectors Council and the New Work series
(c)2007 Peter Harholdt