A Kenyan who went to the United States of America (USA) as a Master's student is among the artists charged with the beautification of Lexington City in Kentucky.
Speaking to Chams Media, Mathew Kiptoo revealed how he quit his banking job in Nairobi to follow his passion for art. He noted that the risk he took paid off and is now reaping the fruits in the land of opportunities.
Kiptoo's artistic sense cuts across various forms, from sculpting in wood and metal, to painting and a blend of both. He has been contracted by both the city and private companies to produce artworks.
"I paint, I do ceramics, I do ports, I do sculptures out of wood, metal, mixed media, and computer-generated designs. Most of the time, the city would commission me or even private entities to do pieces," he revealed
Boasting of a-13-year experience journey in sculpting that began when he was admitted to the faculty of Architecture, Design and Development at the University of Nairobi (UoN) in 2004. He pursued a degree in Arts in Design (Illustration)
"I learnt my fundamentals in sculpting at UoN. I took illustration and that is where I started drawing the human form, which is the most important aspect of art," Kiptoo told Chams Media.
Upon his graduation in 2008, he secured a job at a local bank. Still passionate about art, he established a graphic design company on the side, King Collection, which he later committed fully to after quitting his job.
He focused on sculpting, and worked with some of his former lecturers to sharpen his skills. The lecturers advised him to apply for a scholarship in universities abroad, given that the art was not as popular in the country at the time.
"It was not really easy, especially in the art world. It is very competitive, especially in the art world and in my field of sculpture. Most of the schools do not offer undergraduate degree in sculpture," he noted.
After completing his education, he began sculpting in wood, and metal at his own workshop. He also opened his own studio, gallery and outdoor space where he showcases his products.
The artist revealed that art has enabled him create jobs as he has employed studio assistants. Sculpting further puts food on his table and allows him to support his family back home.
"Everybody loves Kip. He is super friendly and wherever he goes, people recognise him and everybody knows him, especially by his art, "Mike Finucane, his studio assistant noted.
Kiptoo revealed that he draws his inspiration from local Kenyan artists as well as those making strides in other American states. Among them is Wangeci Nyutu who dominated the New York sculpting scene over the years before she returned to Kenya.