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Gallery Hopping in Nairobi!

Every month in our newsletter, we feature an artist in Kenya whose work we especially love. This past weekend, we dropped in at One Off Gallery to see some of our favorite paintings, and share them with you in context. The gallery itself is nestled on a leafy hill, set up like a treehouse overlooking a bucolic, tropical landscape filled with jasmine, bougainvillea and a fabulous, meandering sculpture garden.  We hope you'll love this virtual walkabout and keep your eyes open for the work of these artists in the future, wherever in the world you may be! 

Fitsum Berhe

Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Fitsum is an Eritrean artist living and working in Nairobi. His sizeable, intense portraits are an enquiry into the social, political and geographical influences in the construction of identity and the self. You can see more of his work HERE!

 

 

Allan 'Think' Kioko

Allan Kioko is a 26-year-old self-taught visual artist, illustrator and muralist. His studio is based at the BSQ Crew Train Wagon Studio Nairobi, a creative space that was started by veteran artist Patrick Mukabi to nurture young talent.  He is truly an artist to watch, and more of his work can be found HERE!

 

 

Peter Ngugi

A one-time shoe salesman, Peter is interested in people as they go about their daily business. Here, he depicts a scene at the local kiosk, set off by a poster-style repeat of Golden Fry brand cooking oil, which is the item most frequently bought. Sales are recorded in a small book (held by the owner), thus the work's title "Small Book Clique."

 

INSTA CORNER // WHO WE'RE FOLLOWING: @SHONIBARESTUDIO

We first saw Yinka Shonibare's British Library at the Tate museum in London. The exhibition made a huge impression on us, and we've been following along with his work ever since. Here's a sculpture shown at the Royal Academy of Arts, depicting a young, female figure struggling against an unseen force--an especially meaningful piece right now.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

“The only difference between lying and acting was whether your audience was in on it, but it was all a performance just the same.”

The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Rudaviro by Oliver Mtukudzi

Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi was a legend, considered to have been Zimbabwe's most renowned and internationally recognized cultural icons of all time. He sings in Shona as well as Ndebele and English, and we hope you'll enjoy this Tiny Desk Concert he performed at NPR studios back in 2013! ⬇️

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PROUDLY INTRODUCING: FABRIC BY THE YARD!

We're thrilled to be able to finally offer our fabrics by the YARD! We LOVED the ideas you came up with for how to use these fabrics in our recent survey, including: multimedia artwork, backgrounds for video calls, bags, skirts, and our favorite write-in response, "What wouldn't I use them for?"

As you know, our production is based in Kenya and all the fabrics on offer are from our 100% Made in Kenya collection, which means that they're produced using 100% locally grown cotton and printed right here in Thika. They're light(ish) weight and unwaxed, so they're soft and ready for your next project! 

Here's how this will work:

1. Every 4-6 weeks, we'll list on our website the fabrics that are available for purchase by the yard. (Don't worry, we'll let you know here when they go online!) 

2. The fabrics will be available for preorder for 1 week.

3. Once the preorder window closes, we'll get cutting! 

4. We'll ship out your order 3-4 weeks after preorders close.

Some notes: we're still figuring out this system, so it is subject to change! For now, we don't expect to have the same fabrics every cycle, but that will depend on how this first round goes! Lastly, of course, these are final sale.

BY THE WAY: For those of you who are curious about the new prints you see here, we'll also be cutting these fabrics into dresses and shirts for you this month!

So, without further ado these fabrics are online now! We'll be closing the preorders on March 2nd, and you should receive your fabric by April 1!

*Artwork above by: Shadé Akanbi, Angela Muritu, and Joanne Kalute.  See individual products for more detailed info!

INSTA CORNER // WHO WE'RE FOLLOWING: @babatreebaskets

These gorgeous baskets from Ghana are truly next level. We especially love these Pakurigo Wave baskets, which are named after the two men who created this signature technique, Palash Singh and Master Weaver Mr John Akurigo, during a field trip to Ahmedabad, India in 2013.

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Eclipse by Lura

If you enjoy the musical stylings of Cesaria Evora as much as we do, we think you'll absolutely love this album! Born to Cape Verdean parents, Portuguese singer Lura has a voice that you'll fall head-over-heels for. Whether you're sitting by the fire or cooking up a storm, this album is HOT!

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // The City We Became

“People who say change is impossible are usually pretty happy with things just as they are.”

Originally developed from her short story "The City Born Great," this urban fantasy novel by N.K. Jemisin is set in modern day New York City, and imagines that the city itself has come alive, in the form of a rough and tumble street kid. Described as a love letter to the city, it's a book about standing up for each other, and it feels especially relevant right now.

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Marcia Chatelain: Creativity, Art and the History of (in)equality

We think you'll truly enjoy this short talk by one of our favorite historians and professors, author Marcia Chatelain. Not just because she's a hilarious and engaging speaker, or looks so good in that dress (!) but because it's a topic that touches us all. 

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PROUDLY INTRODUCING: HAND-LOOMED LINENS YOU'LL LOVE!

This June, we were thrilled to release our first line of solid-colored hand-loomed linens, produced in collaboration with team Sasha (pictured above)!  Woven by India's oldest certified fair-trade artisanal weaving cooperative, these textiles turned out so beautifully, we decided to expand this partnership with new colors, textures and techniques!

Over the last several months, we've been working together on some gorgeous textiles, starting with the colorfully rich (and super cozy) beauties below.  Each of these fabrics is a hand-loomed blend of cotton and linen, and takes about 4 months to complete. (While the fabric was produced in India, the dresses were all proudly stitched in Kenya by our team.) This fabulous 70% linen/30% cotton blend both creates subtle texture and movement within the weave, and also ensures that your dresses will be super easy to wash and wear -- they're wrinkle resistant, durable, and as an added bonus, will drape a bit more gracefully when worn.

We hope that you will love them as much as we do, and that they'll bring both joy and color to your world!

Holiday Reading List

 

We're book lovers here at Zuri, and we love that so many of you in our community are, too! This holiday season, what better gift to share than a really good read? We've compiled a list of Zuri writers that we'd love you to join us in supporting and celebrating, and we're highlighting local women and/or BIPOC owned bookstores, where you can find these books and many more!  We'd also love your recommendations, so if you're an author or have a bookstore that you'd love us to include, drop us a line at heyzuri@shopzuri.com.  (Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Edwidge Danticat, Monique Truong, Tracy K. Smith and Zadie Smith.)

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta

Started in Burkina Faso in 1964 by Kone Idrissa, Volta Jazz became a symbol of global inspriation, fusing Cuban influences with west African funk. This all-star compilation album is a nostalgic must-listen--it's an especially perfect soundtrack for an evening spent cooking, as it will definitely turn up the heat! 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Set in Red Hook, Brooklyn in 1969, Deacon King Kong reminds us what we love about New York, and about humanity itself.  The story details the tailspin of Deacon Cuffy ("Sportcoat") after the loss of his wife, through his interactions with an ensemble cast of truly memorable characters, and is told in way that is quick, witty and humorous. It is absolutely worth the read! 

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // An Interview with Edwidge Danticat

We're going deep in the archives for this interview with one of our favorite authors, Edwidge Danticat. If you're a fan of her novels, you'll love watching this conversation with Marlene Racine-Toussaint, the founder of the Multicultural Women's Press.

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Last batiks of 2020!

It's such a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with Edwina and her team in Accra, Ghana, to develop these fabrics, and we're thrilled to share these new prints with you!

In the photos above, you can see the wax designs for Confetti and Valencia. Starting with plain white cotton fabric, wax is applied using a stamp to create these designs. Once the wax dries, the fabric is soaked in a dye bath for its first layer of color. Both of these prints go through multiple separate dye baths, for Dashing, the first is red and after wax is removed and another wax pattern is added, it goes into a dye bath for orange and then pink. For Valencia, the first is to dye the pink and the second is to dye the orange!

Here you can see Operabea preparing the Valencia fabric for its wax removal. It's already been dyed pink, and now the wax will be warmed and removed before going into an orange dye bath!

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Daby Touré

Born in Maruitania and raised in Senegal, Daby Touré's music combines traditional African and western folk music with influences of jazz, reggae and soul. This is one of our favorite albums, particularly the 4th track "Yaw", which feels tender and ethereal but powerful all at the same time. We hope you'll love it as much as we do!

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // THE EL PASO EXPERIMENT A Public Defender’s Lonely Fight Against Family Separation by Melissa del Bosque

This deeply researched story traces one of the earliest cases brought to court to fight against the government's zero tolerance border family separation policy. While maddening and painful to read, I can't recommend this piece enough if you're interested in understanding how this policy was implemented and how one lawyer tried to fight it.

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Jordan Casteel at the New Museum - Virtual Tour

We're super excited about this show at the New Museum of Jordan Casteel's work, and while we're not able to visit in person, this virtual tour, narrated by the artist, is incredible! Join us for a visit to the museum :)

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Holiday Print Sale!

The holidays will soon be upon us, and we've been slowly putting together a selection of products that we absolutely love to share with you! First up, as many of you know, we are devoted fans of artist Dennis Muraguri, and we're super excited to be able to share his prints with you! These signed 11 3/4" x 16 1/2" posters depict matatus, public transit vehicles that roam the streets of Nairobi transporting people, goods, culture and dreams. This is the first time that they've been sold outside of Kenya, and we hope that you'll love them as much as we do!

Those of you who've visited us on Fillmore have spotted these prints hanging on our wall! We have these available in-store at Bleecker right now and will have them in SF (hopefully) next week!

 

 

 

 

We made this video to introduce the Ma3 textile print that we created with Dennis! Learn more about his process and inspirations here:

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Matwana Matatu Culture

Curious to learn more about matatu culture? Check out this video!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Afracanah with Nomusa June and Adedana Ashebir

We love this podcast hosted by Nomusa and Adenana! Referring to themselves as diaspora squared, these two women were raised in the US and Canada and currently live in Nairobi. They discuss everything from pop culture to professional challenges to tech and development and we can't get enough!

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // MATATU PLAYLIST

Music is a huge part of matatu culture, and we've put together a selection of some of our favorite songs that you might hear booming out the window of any Nairobi matatu. This mix will definitely put you in motion, so throw on your sneakers, put in your headphones, and get ready to run!

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