Wangechi Mutu Honored at Ritzy Hamptons Event

The Hamptons, Long Island – home to some of the richest people in the world – is most commonly associated with excessive wealth, stardom and larger-than-life property. So it might come as a surprise to learn that Nairobi-native and progressive visual artist Wangechi Mutu was selected as the Featured Artist at this past weekend’s Art For Life Benefit Event in Bridgehampton.

Art For Life is hosted annually by the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which aims to raise money to establish and fortify art programs for inner city youth. This weekend’s event was the 20th anniversary and featured a roaring 1920s theme, welcoming celebrities and business moguls from across the globe. According to Rolling Out Magazine, some $1.5 million were raised during the event alone.

Art For Life's founder and director Russell Simmons.

Art For Life’s founder and director Russell Simmons

Mutu was honored alongside legendary comedian Dave Chappelle, art collectors Michaela and Simon de Pury and critically acclaimed screenwriter Ava DuVernay. Mutu, who was the event’s sole Featured Artist, was selected with a motivation emphasizing her “skillfully executed multi-media works [which] ask difficult questions about wastefulness, cultural hierarchies, cruelty, gender and femaleness.”

Dave Chappelle expressed the importance of programs like Art For Life, noting the fact that he benefited from similar programs himself, as always, with his tongue in his cheek.

“Programs like this actually did save my life,” Chappelle said. “I went to an arts high school…and I found out about this arts program and it changed my life in ways that I couldn’t even imagine. And now look at me today, here I am in the winner’s circle and the Hamptons, I have The Great Gatsby hat under my seat. I’m on of these weird guys that’s as famous for what he didn’t do as I am for what I did.”

Originally from Sweden, Chris is a journalist with an extensive interest for African culture and the arts.