TED Fellow, Cyrus Kabiru debuts C-STUNNER collection in Santa Monica (VIDEOS)

Make sure to check out the Santa Monica art show of Cyrus Kabiru, a self-taught Kenyan artist who makes the most unusual eyewear sculptures.

Cyrus is in town to receive a 2013 TED Fellowship for his out of this world eyewear sculptures which are a fusion of contemporary art, performance, fashion, and design.

His show will open post-TED on March 1 at Frank Pictures in Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station. There will be an artist reception on March 2nd to welcome him to Los Angeles.



Exhibition: March 1 – March 9, 2013, 11:30-6:30 pm
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 2, 5:30-8:30 pm
Location: Frank Pictures Gallery in association with Ed Cross Fine Art, Bergamot Station, A-5
2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica, CA

A portion of the art sales will go to the Kuona Trust, a foundation dedicated to promoting contemporary visual arts in Kenya. 



This exhibition is Kabiru’s first show in the U.S. and coincides with his appointment of a 2013 TED fellowship at TED’s the “Young, the Gifted, the Undiscovered” conference in Long Beach.



From the press release:

A painter and sculptor, Cyrus Kabiru stands at the forefront of a generation of artists whose innovation and creativity is shaping the way in which not only art from Africa is viewed, but Africa itself.  As the work of this generation travels across borders challenging perceptions and stereotypes, Kabiru’s work has caught the imagination of the art world both within Africa and abroad. 



“I draw my inspiration from the urban environment of Nairobi. My passion is to inject new life and purpose into the bottle tops, soda cans and other materials that people have discarded as useless,” says Kabiru. “It is such an honor to be in Los Angeles to receive a 2013 TED Fellowship and share with the LA art community my work.”

C-STUNNERS are a series of wearable eyewear sculptures that sit on the boundary between art, performance, fashion and design.  These innovative pieces of art each tell their own story and are made using found objects from the artist’s immediate environment. 



Kabiru’s work is inspired by the childhood memories of growing up in an area of Nairobi bordering the city’s biggest garbage dump.  Weaving together found materials such as bottle tops, shoe polish tins, wire and cutlery, his visual art is built on the notion of, in Kabiru’s words, ‘giving trash a second chance.’



Not withstanding their surreal humor, Kabiru’s C-Stunners address profound issues confronting Africa and the world in general. His Big Mouth work, for example, made from two audio speakers, commemorates the stand against government corruption taken by Kenyan whistle blower John Githongo.

Other works reference the grim conditions in prisons and others the exploits of African dictators.  Some of the pieces have historical and personal significance – Sanyo is made from the front of Kabiru’s grandmother’s radio which was the first in her village. Kabiru’s grandfather was the “Head of Music” in the Mau Mau liberation army that fought for Kenya’s independence against the British.

In Los Angeles, Kabiru will receive a 2013 TED fellowship, an extraordinary achievement for a self-taught artist from a deprived area of Nairobi. TED have been particularly impressed by Kabiru’s commitment to working with rural communities in Kenya to teach people about environmental sustainability through his workshops.

Kabiru’s “Outreach” program is his own largely self-funded initiative which involves the organization of month-long workshops, often in remote areas where he teaches and inspires people to create art out of waste materials found in the surrounding environment. Kabiru has become a powerful role model for Kenyan youth from the slums and all walks of life. While in LA, Kabiru will be participating in a number of events to talk with emerging artists about his work and lead small workshops with urban youth.

A portion of artwork sales will be donated to the Kuona Trust, a non-profit dedicated to nurturing creative and intellectual development in children and youth by exposing them to hands-on art activities. Cyrus plans to develop a series of community workshops to educate youth in Kenya’s rural communities on the recycling of waste materials and environmental care while making art.

The C-Stunner Los Angeles tour is supported by Stunner of the Month, a monthly sunglass subscription service www.stunnerofthemonth.com.

Cyrus Kabiru is represented by London based Ed Cross Fine Art who specialize in contemporary art from the African continent and its Diaspora. Further details at www.edcrossfineart.com


Kabiru has been creating his ‘spectacles’ since childhood. First as toys for himself and later for his class-mates as a way of bartering his way through school work. His passion for ‘glasses’ stems from his father’s phobia about them. As a child, the artist’s grandparents punished his father severely for losing a pair of glasses that they had made huge sacrifices to provide him with. When the young Kabiru began playing with his father’s glasses, he was told by his father “if you want to survive in my house you will make your own glasses”. Taking him at his word, the young boy embarked on what would become his lifetime mission to create eyewear out of “trash”.

His father, bemused by the explosion of toy glasses became an unwitting curator, decreeing that his son should “only make the glasses when there is a reason” by recreating again and again the object of his father’s pain, and his grandparent’s hope, Kabiru began to create a body of work that would have symbolic significance well beyond his own family story, ultimately becoming a metaphor for the power of creative transformation both within Africa and worldwide.

Kabiru has been featured in group shows throughout Europe and the Middle East including Istanbul Design Biennale, Istanbul, Perimeter Art & Design, Paris, Rosetta Arts, London, Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion, London, and upcoming shows in Dubai and Paris.

His C-STUNNERS were recently worn by Bobby Womack on the cover of Clash Magazine’s December 2012 issue and he has been profiled by the New York Times (September 2012), The International Herald Tribune (September 2012), and Under the Influence Magazine’s Africa Issue (November 2012).

For more information about Kabiru’s work, you can watch the following video links below:

MTV Base – http://www.mtvbase.com/shows/touching-base/
Manufactured – http://vimeo.com/33167682
Ed Cross Fine Art – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3iWXSSj_6Y