Wangechi Mutu: Cultural Cutouts

Wangechi Mutu is a collage artist who works with physical materials, such as magazine clippings, to create a larger image with texture, pattern, and figures. She uses collage as a mode of conveying a central concept: a person of color who is navigating the world and finding representation of her people in media. Mutu cuts out images from magazines, such as pictures of people and patterns, and places them in specific ways to create colorful, complex collages about her ethnicity as a black woman.

As in Mutu’s work, our assignment for digital media involves pulling images from the Internet and creating a digital collage. While the analog and digital methods have major differences, they allow similar techniques to be used. Inspired by Mutu’s method of collecting and manipulating images, I will be searching for pictures from different genres, such as music and animation, and will digitally cut out pieces of those images in order to overlap them to create a collage.

Another interesting connection to make between Mutu’s work and my prospective digital work is the idea of using one culture as a lens to investigate another culture. While Mutu uses her black culture to evaluate American media, I will be using my American culture as a means of viewing Asian culture, specifically in terms of male beauty standards. Throughout time, there has been a focus on female objectification in Asian culture, but has only recently shifted focus onto male objectification, something that was previously “invisible” to the public; could there be a way to shed light on these “invisible” aspects of the media as Mutu has discussed in the video?

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