Feb 10–Dec 1, 2024

Entryways: Nontsikelelo Mutiti

Nontsikelelo Mutiti, Entryways, 2024 (conceptual rendering)
Entryways: Nontsikelelo Mutiti is the inaugural project for a new series that commissions artists to activate the façade of ICA’s building in partnership with Maharam, North America’s leading creator of textiles for commercial and residential interiors. For the 2024 edition, ICA invited Nontsikelelo Mutiti, a Zimbabwean-born visual artist and educator, to reimagine the windows. In the resulting work, Mutiti combined African hair braiding patterns and hair clips with symbols often found in ironwork.  
Mutiti is deeply interested in the cultures and communities that are formed in hair salons globally, and often incorporates braids in her work as markers of identity, migration, and culture. Similarly, the use of symbols in ironwork, particularly Adinkra symbols from West Africa, are present visually almost everywhere these decorative architectural features are found. These forms were first created by enslaved blacksmiths from West Africa and have become a shared diasporic visual language. The designs are now found across the African diaspora including in Philadelphia and the broader United States. In the same way that hair braiders continue the practice of these braiding systems, ironworkers, and now restoration workers, ensure the survival and persistence of these symbols as important cultural markers. 

Nontsikelelo Mutiti is invested in elevating the work and practices of Black peoples past, present, and future through a conceptual approach to design, publishing, archiving practices, and institution building. Mutiti holds a diploma in Multimedia from the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA) and an MFA from the Yale School of Art, with a concentration in Graphic Design. Mutiti is the Director of Graduate Studies in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art. She has held academic positions at Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA), SUNY Purchase College and VCUarts at Virginia Commonwealth University. 


Entryways: Nontsikelelo Mutiti is organized by Hallie Ringle, Daniel and Brett Sundheim Chief Curator.


Support for Entryways is provided by Maharam Digital Projects.

Installation Views
All photos: Constance Mensh

Artist Interview

Artist Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Hallie Ringle, ICA’s Daniel and Brett Sundheim Chief Curator, discuss Mutiti’s artistic process, inspirations, and what it’s like to work on her largest scale yet at ICA.