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Acaye Kerunen at Blum & Poe
Acaye Kerunen’s exhibition of sculptures and dimensional wall works, presented at Blum & Poe, is her first in the United States. The Ugandan artist utilizes traditional materials alongside natural ones — like banana fiber, palm leaf, and raffia — to create detailed and sculptural woven pieces. Pink and purple patterning fashioned in tightly-woven banana leaf cascades across twinned raffia and basket forms. Although each work is an eruption of abstract color and pattern, the artist gives figurative titles (The Matriarch, The New Bride), personifying her dimensional forms while celebrating women.
To create her work, Kerunen works closely with craftspeople, most of them women, who are masters in traditional weaving techniques; commissioning these artisans to create various elements of each piece (which Kerunen later collages and sculpts together) often allows them the freedom to try new patterns and colors that are a bit more experimental. Notably, Kerunen’s materials are all-natural and biodegradable, so beyond elevating women’s labor and natural craft techniques, she also vocally advocates for sustainable practices made in communion with the natural world.
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Photo: Acaye Kerunen, A NI EE (I AM HERE) (Installation view) (2023). © Acaye Kerunen, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/NewYork/Tokyo. Photo: Evan Walsh