OAKLAND — The West Oakland studio of artist Githinji wa Mbire is 10,000 miles from the small mining town in Kenya where he was born. But through his art, the 45-year-old painter-sculptor has melded the two continents.
Tall and gaunt, Mbire uses materials from Oakland's streets to create works that are inspired by Africa, aesthetically, spiritually and conceptually.
His newest show opens Thursday at the Giorgi Gallery and brings the United States and Africa together through Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate whose Kenyan and African heritage is celebrated throughout the continent.
If slaves originally from Africa built the White House, it makes sense one of their descendents should be in there, said Mbire, whose angular cheekbones reflect his dedication to being a vegetarian as well as his East African descent.
Featured at the Thursday show will be 25 sculptures and five canvases covered with the texts of Obama's speeches in the shape of the African continent to give the campaign, as Mbire put it, "some more juice and more vibrations."