Thandiwe Muriu, celebration of colors, traditions, and women
Passionate about photography since the age of 14, Thandiwe Muriu grew up in Kenya in a family marked by art, surrounded by a sister who is a stylist and a second one, a virtuoso pianist. She refined her photographic practice during her teenage years, influenced by Vogue magazine and the aesthetic canons in the front page of this women's publication. She took one of her sisters as a model and tried to portrait her with complete freedom. It is the time of the rise of social networks, her photographs meet a great success and lead her to sign her first commission as a young talent.
Rare woman in the environment then reserved exclusively for men, she pursues higher education in business school and works simultaneously with Mutua Matheka or Emmanuel Jambo. After graduation, passionate about the 8th art, she dedicates herself definitively to fashion photography and at the age of 23, signs her first contract for an international campaign. Like her fellow citizens, it is important for her to highlight the natural beauty of women with whom she identifies herself. Her compositions are in keeping with the beauty criteria of a black femininity. Essential models for the African readership at home and from the diaspora too often absent from the front pages of magazines. Also, she sublimates through her art, black skin and afro hairstyles that deserve to be more than ever valued.
Moreover, the photographer reconnects with the glorious past of African empires by using fabric, declined in frank and vivid colors enveloping her subjects. Determined, passionate, she wishes to spearhead a new generation of committed women entrepreneurs in Kenya through her art, destined to write an inspiring story for many of them. Next challenge? To photograph a cover of Vogue.
"CAMO was the first time I shot something truly for myself. I started by asking myself: “what do I like?” The answer was simple - colors. I expanded the concept of African colors and played with patterns. My stylist gave me the idea of using everyday objects like cans of soda as an accessory. The resulting images are fun, playful and unapologetically African. Using a very dark-skinned model was also important. I grew up with a beauty standard that did not celebrate my skin, and there was a “pain” in being dark skinned. CAMO challenged these ideals and explored true “African beauty”. I wanted little girls to see themselves in my work and discover the beauty in her skin, lips and hips. I have since grown as an artist and a person. I used to feel apologetic about using dark-skinned models... Not anymore. Today, I am less afraid of putting my identity in the front and center. I proudly wear it as a badge of honor.
Recently, I’m inspired by everyday African objects. For example, a brightly colored plastic strainer that I use to prepare tea is cut up and worn by an accessory by Maasais. In Kenya, one object has 20 other uses, and it defies class or social group. We style things in a way that you’d never see in the West and it’s constantly evolving and exhilarating".
African prints in fashion:
CNN - African voices change makers: