Kenyan American Wangechi Mutu has become the first artist to fill Metropolitan Museum of Art’s alcoves with four eye-catching female sculptures. By Nadja Sayej
If you’re standing outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, there’s one small detail that’s often overlooked in the building’s grand architecture: the four alcoves that crown its entranceway.
These alcoves have been left empty since the museum was built over a century ago, but that’s about to change.
Kenyan American Wangechi Mutu has become the first artist to fill them with four bronze sculptures for a project called The NewOnes, will free Us, which is on view until 12 January.
The sculptures of women here look like confident African queens, staring ahead. One is bald, while another has a lip plate. They’re all draped in spaghettilike garments, while some have pointed fingers, like celestial beings.
They draw from the artist’s research in women and power, especially African traditions with adornments – that if a woman is wealthy or high ranking, she wears heavier and larger objects.
“What do high ranking women in leadership, and leadership women who have wisdom, wear?” asks Mutu. “I took from these traditions and have elongated, accentuated or heightened them in certain ways so they look and feel like the women who are leaders of that society.”
Image: Portrait of Wangechi Mutu
Photography: Eileen Travell