Thandiwe Muriu is an acclaimed Photographer born and bred in Nairobi, Kenya.
She got into photography when she was 14. A Nikon camera belonging to her father introduced her to the art and she instantly fell in love.
She started researching and studying everything she could on photography including tutorials, and books among others since the country did not have a photography school at the time.
“From my first interaction with the camera, I knew there was a connection between photography and me,” she stated.
By the time the budding artist was 17, she was a professional and was shooting her first advertising campaign by 23.
Since then, the young woman has grown and become a respected name in the international scene.
Muriu has worked on several international campaigns even having her work featured in Vogue, an international, fashion, lifestyle and couture magazine.
Her works of art have also been featured in several other magazines including Artsy, Archer Magazine, Mutual Art, Bwo Art, BBC and Nuvo Magazine.
Initially a commercial photographer, Muriu decided to explore her own style and carve out a niche for herself. This gave birth to ‘Camo’, an artistic concept designed to showcase African fabric.
“If I speak of African beauty, I need to focus on more than what we wear and explore who we are and how that makes us uniquely beautiful,” she said to Design Indaba.
“I am so proud to come from this continent! To me, being African means being colourful and full of life.”
However, Camo quickly grew into something bigger than just fabric, she decided to tie in her Kenyan roots and various aspects of her culture into the show.
“We often wear our hair in braids or chemically straightened, even though we have a rich history of beautiful, architectural hairstyles that are being forgotten. I incorporate this into my work to spark conversation around how we can wear it today. I like to call it ‘modernizing history,” Muriu stated.
“Our dark skin, too, is one of our most striking features and I want to encourage young girls to celebrate that.”
Her sentiments can be seen throughout her work which features beautiful melanated women.
Muriu uses African Textiles and everyday household items like combs to craft enchanting images that exemplify the beauty of an African woman.
She treads the line between, beauty, art and illusion.
The photographer uses unique colours and prints as her backdrops and dresses her models in the same prints, blending them into the background which makes them stand out.
Objects like bottle tops, plastic combs, sieves, straws and even bottle-cleaning brushes are prevalent in Muriu’s photographs.
“Sculptural hairstyles, bright prints, everyday objects are transformed into something new and unexpected, and all of these elements come together into photographs that are a sort of transfiguration, portraits that become powerful symbols of beauty and pride,” Vogue wrote about her Camo series.
The prodigy’s choice to use everyday objects in her art was inspired by Kenyans’ creativity in repurposing said objects.
“One of the most common things I see is objects being used for something other than their intended purpose. For example, plastic handheld mirrors being used as side mirrors on a bicycle weaving through traffic, or even as decorative clothing accessories on a Maasai warrior!” she explained.
Muriu’s work has not only set her apart from her peers but also introduced Kenyan culture to the world.