Katelynn Ulmer - Emerging Artist: Kimathi Mafafo
Image: Kimathi Mafafo, The Girl in the Enchanted Garden I, 2020. Machine and Hand Embroidery on Fabric, 144 x 142 cm. Image Credit: ebonycurated.com.
Kimathi Mafafo is a multidisciplinary emerging artist whose practice ranges from embroidery and oil painting to installation. She was born in 1984 in Kimberley, South Africa and went on to obtain a National Diploma in Fine Arts from the College of Cape Town in 2007, and a National Diploma in Film and Video from Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2016. Mafafo has been featured in several group and solo exhibitions, and she will be showing her work in a solo exhibition at the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery in London this fall of 2021.
Image: Kimathi Mafafo, The Girl in the Enchanted Garden II, 2020. Embroidery on Fabric, 191 x 135 cm. Image Credit: kristinhjellegjerde.com.
Mafafo’s imagery is guided by her desire to celebrate the black female form. She has stated that her work aims “to heal the women that are broken out there.” Her works are autobiographical as they show a woman withdrawing from the urban landscape and retreating into a lush forest, seeking solace and inner strength. This lush greenery and sensual draping are far removed from the dusty mining town in which she grew up and are thus central to her work and the message she hopes to communicate. Her use of embroidery allows for a more detailed and highly staged environment, which further narrates this story to her viewer. The figure that was once trapped under the delicate white fabric in The Girl in the Enchanted Garden II, is seen emerging and embarking upon a trip of self-discovery in Unforeseen Journey of Self Discovery. By celebrating the black female form, Mafafo aims to inspire women who feel trapped under this weight of tradition by encouraging her viewers to realize their worth and challenge gender roles.
Image: Kimathi Mafafo, Unforeseen Journey of Self Discovery, 2020. Hand and Machine Embroidered Fabric, 112 x 98 cm. Image Credit: kristinhjellegjerde.com.
Mafafo enjoys working collaboratively and has since completed a series of embroideries entitled Voiceless with Mustapha Saadu, a tailor from Ghana. For the 2020 New York division of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED presented a video of Mafafo discussing her work and practice while in her studio. Watch below:
For more information on Kimathi Mafafo and her upcoming exhibition please visit www.kristinhjellegjerde.com.