Thandiwe Muriu’s work showcases Africa’s unique mix of vibrant textiles, cultural practices, and beauty ideologies. Creating surreal illusions through 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.
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 questions led to her globally appreciated photographic series called Camo, a project of cultural reflection.
Since then, Thandiwe’s works have become a part of significant museum and public collections like Collection Gervanne + Matthias Leridon, Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, and UHODA Collection amongst others. She has been commissioned by Apple, the United Nations, Swiss Red Cross and Dior. In 2023, i-D magazine listed her as part of “The New African Artistic Guard.” And her work has been featured on CNN, BBC, Vogue, Elle France and Forbes, to name a few.
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 and opened her first major solo-show in Paris on 14th October 2023.