August 26th, 2016 | Portland Public Library Atrium, 5 Monument Way, Portland, ME
Irene Wanjiru was born in a small village on the slopes of Mount Elgon, an extinct volcano straddling the border between Kenya and Uganda. Irene has exhibited widely throughout Nairobi, and taught a workshop in wood carving for women at the National Museums of Kenya. She has been artist-in-residence for several summers at the Carving Studio & Sculpture Center in Rutland, Vermont, and is the 2015 artist-in-residence at the Spillway Fund in Southport, Maine.
Humans and animals both mythical and real interact in her art, inhabiting an imaginative, fecund world that is wholly African (the spirit and workaday worlds always just around the corner from each other), yet draws comparison to the surrealism of Max Ernst and the expressionism of Max Beckmann. Her work is at once dramatic and playful, revealing and life-affirming.