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Thandiwe Muriu’s work showcases Africa’s unique mix of vibrant textiles, cultural practices, and beauty ideologies. Creating surreal illusions that are not digital manipulations but rather pure photography, she confronts issues surrounding identity and self-perception while seeking to redefine female empowerment through the application of her choice of materials, such as fabric and common household items. Her work is marked by precision and intentionality from the conception of a piece through to its final printed form. She completes her visual illusions by printing on special paper, making the work appear more like paintings rather than photographs.
Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Thandiwe discovered photography at age 14, experimenting with her fathers old Nikon camera. Self-taught, she immersed herself in books and video tutorials, learning from every resource she could find, as Kenya did not have any formal photography schools. By age 17, she was working professionally, and by 23 had shot her first solo advertising campaign. By 2019, she was photographing campaigns for some of the largest companies in East Africa.
As the sole woman operating in the male-dominated advertising photography industry in Kenya, Thandiwe repeatedly confronted questions around the role of women in society, the place of tradition, and her own self-perception. These experiences inspired her first work, the Camo series, a project of cultural reflection. Camo was the catalyst for her to push new boundaries in her photography, leading her into a deeply personal artistic journey.
Thandiwe takes you on a colourful, reflective journey through her world as a woman living in modern Kenya, as she reinterprets contemporary African portraiture, and presents a bold new vision of a woman and her autonomy.
She currently resides in Nairobi, Kenya where she teaches workshops and regularly travels for assignments.