Artist turns typical trash to treasure

by Julianna Ress, Senior Staff Writer

When most people see empty milk cartons, they see trash.

But, when painting and printmaking graduate student Moses Muturi sees empty milk cartons, he sees an opportunity to create art.

Muturi said art was essential to his upbringing and he saw it as a way of life rather than a hobby.

“I developed an interest in (art) at a young age and just continued to grow ever since,” he said.

Muturi said his mediums are as eclectic as his unmatched artistic style.

“I make sculptures, I do paintings and mixed media,” he said. “But mostly you will find me making sculptures. (My art) has kind of a contemporary feel but with a traditional touch to it.”

Muturi said he typically creates sculptures because he feels that medium is more in line with his hands-on approach to artwork.

“I like anything that’s hands-on, something that I can create an end product out of,” Muturi said. “Something you would not have imagined before.”

He describes his artwork as being a mixed bag and often uses everyday items such as paper, milk cartons, empty packages, recyclables and other typical “trash” in his pieces.

“I rarely buy stuff from the art store,” Muturi said. “I generally like collecting objects, anything that you can think of. Just stuff you would find among the home or office.”

He said he finds that he is drawn to everyday objects due to their general disassociation with art.

“The fact that (an everyday object) was not meant to be used as art in itself attracts me to it because I see the potential of art in it,” Muturi said. “So I want to explore what can be done to it, in terms of modifying it or displaying it from a different angle or different perspective. That way I challenge myself to make art out of it in a way that most people don’t even think of.”

Muturi said his art falls somewhere between abstract and realism, but typically leans toward the abstract end of the spectrum. He said he additionally tries to incorporate his culture and heritage into his pieces.

“I also like exploring traditional themes of my African background but giving it a modern interpretation and balancing it between Western and African art,” Muturi said.

He expresses his African background in his art through colors, symbols and the stories behind his pieces.

Fellow painting and printmaking graduate student Abraham Romero said he feels Muturi’s art is layered and contains meaning.

“I think what I enjoy most about (Muturi’s) art is the simplicity of it,” he said. “But what’s in that simplicity is more complex, underlying ideas and messages that refer to his youth.”

Muturi’s art has been featured in the Panache Art Auction in Escondido annually for the past three years.

The Panache Art Auction is held annually by the Escondido Arts Partnership and other organizations to celebrate award winning artists in Southern California.

He said this honor is one of his proudest accomplishments as an artist.

Muturi said he was drawn to the art department at San Diego State due to its hands-off approach and to its willingness to let students explore their own artistic identity.

“We are given a lot of freedom to develop our own styles and take (our art) in the direction we want it to go,” he said.

Muturi said his classmates and the access to various departments and tools have been the most helpful aspects of the art program.

In the future, he said his goals are to create art that makes a statement and be invited to show his pieces in galleries.

He said he sees himself working in interior design, producing custom made sculptures and wall hangings.

Muturi said he encourages students and faculty to visit the art department to view the pieces he and other art students are working on.

He said he hopes to create a website in the future to act as an additional method of viewing his artwork.