Syowia Kyambi

Professor for Fine Arts

Syowia Kyambi, Foto: Marlon Hall, 2022

Syowia Kyambi, Roses Relocation (i-v)', Digital C-Type / Fuji Matt Paper. 28.2cm x 38.2cm (each). Edition of 5 & 1AP. 2015

Syowia Kyambi, Kaspale's Playground, Video-Still Documentation, Credit: Kibe Wangunyu, 2020

Syowia Kyambi, I Have Heard Many Things About You, Video, Documentation, Credit: Cantufan Klose, 2016

Syowia Kyambi: Kaspale's Playground, Installation-View, Photo: Don Handa, Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute, 2023

Prof. Syowia Kyambi has been a visiting professor at the AdBK Nuremberg since 1 November 2023. The visiting professorship is funded by the Top Professorship Programme (SPP) of the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts.


Further information about the first bavarian Art Top Professorship here



2020 Master in Fine Arts, Plymouth University, Transart Institute, UK 

2002 Bachelor in Fine Arts, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA 




The Association of Visual Artists & Collectives (2021 – 2023)

Current chair of the association which focuses on the welfare of its members. 

Untethered Magic (2019 – 0ngoing)

Co-founder of a processed based international residency program focused on autonomy and sustainability. 

Transart Institute (2023 – Ongoing)

Co-director of the MFA program 




[* solo exhibitions / ** touring exhibitions] (Selection) 



2023* - KASPALE, The Nairobi Contemporary Institute, Kenya

2023 - Matter As Actor, Lisson Gallery, UK

2022-2024 - MakerMuseum:Weaving, Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Berlin 


2022 Exercises in Conversation, Pavilion of Kenya, 59th International Art Exhibition - Biennale di Venezia, Italy

2022 Índaffa / Forger out of the Fire, Dakar Biennale, Senegal

2022-2023 Contact Zones, Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt/Main, Germany 

2019 AMANI, on the Trail of a Colonial Research Station, MARKK Museum, Hamburg, Germany 

2018* Double Consciousness, Galerie Mitte im Kubo, Bremen, Germany 

2015 - 2019** Future Africa Visions in Time, Nairobi National Museum, Kenya, Goethe Johannesburg, South Africa, Goethe Windhoek, Namibia, Goethe Kigali, Rwanda, Makarere University Gallery, Kampala, Uganda, Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth Academy for Advanced African Studies, Germany


2016 Error X, Ostrale Centre for Contemporary Art, Dresden, Germany 

2016 Remains, Waste & Metonymy, Nairobi National Museum, Nairobi Kenya 


2013-2014 Foreign Bodies/Common Ground, Wellcome Collection, London, United Kingdom


2012 Layers, Nairobi National Museum, Kenya


2011 ARS 11, Poikilo, Kouvola Art Museum, Kouvola, Finland


2010* Permiso: Excuse Me, Nairobi National Museum, Kenya


2008* Gender, Power & the Past, Goethe-Institute Nairobi, Kenya


2005 True Colours, Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art, Nairobi, Kenya 


2004 Contemporary Visions, National Museum of Mali, Bamako, Mali 


2004 Utopia, Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art, Nairobi, Kenya


2003 Todesatem (Deaths Breath), Undergraduate Exhibition 2003 Show, Gallery 2, Chicago, U.S.A

2001 Of Figurative Empathy, Lounge Gallery, Chicago U.S.A


1999 Drawings, New England Gallery, New Hampshire, U.S.A 



Residencies, Workshops & Fellowships 


2022 INHABIT, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt/Main, Germany 

2020 Third Nature, London South Bank University, Performing Boarders & LADA, UK (online)


2020 Common Places Entanglements, Centre for Art, Design & Social Research Residency, Online 


2020 Co curated, De/Archive, Centre for Art, Design & Social Research Residency Nairobi, Kenya 

2019 Co curated, Carrying Histories, PRAKSIS, Oslo, Norway

2019 Field Kitchen Academy, Berlin, Germany

2019 Centre for Art, Design & Social Research Residency, Spoleto, Italy


2019 Centre for Art, Design & Social Research Residency, Merida, Mexico


2018 University of the Arts Helsinki Fellow, HIAP, Helsinki, Finland

2018 Centre for Art, Design & Social Research Residency, Spoleto, Italy 2017 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, Washington DC, U.S.A


2018 Centre for Art, Design & Social Research Residency, Spoleto, Italy


2017 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, Washington DC, U.S.A


2017 Arts in Society, Kigali, Rwanda

2016 Performance As Process, Delfina Foundation, London, UK

2016 (Re)thinking Feminism And Black Womanhood, Kampala, Uganda 


2016 International Engagement Workshop: The Art of Health: Exploring Creative Engagement with Research, Wellcome Collection, Mumbai, India


2013 IASPIS, Stockholm, Sweden


2012 Art in Global Health, Wellcome Trust Fund, United Kingdom


2012 ArtsWork Workshop: Refiguring Women, Goethe Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa


2012 Art in Global Health, KEMRI – Wellcome Trust, Kilfi, Kenya


2009 Creative Artist Visit, External Ministry of Affairs, Mexico City, Mexico


2004 Figure Drawing Workshop, The Go Down Art Centre, Nairobi, Kenya 2003 Mono Type Printing, Kuona Trust Visual Art Centre, Nairobi, Kenya



Curatorial Projects

2019/on-going Untethered Magic, Process Based Residency Space, Nairobi, Kenya


2020 Curated, Residency & Exhibition, Get Your Foot Off My Neck, Collaboration with Ostrale Centre for Contemporary Art Dresden & Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi (cancelled due to Covid-19)


2020 Co-curated the Centre for Art, Design & Social Research Residency, De/Archive Nairobi, Kenya


2019 Co-curated, Carrying Histories, PRAKSIS, Oslo, Norway


2019 WomanISM, Ostrale Centre for Contemporary Art Biennale, Dresden, Germany


2016 Error X, Collaborative Curation with Ostrale Centre for Contemporary Art, Dresden, Germany


2012 In Memoriam: A journey through Mbuthia Maina’s Past Work, Goethe-Institut Nairobi, Kenya


2010 Rear View 2004 – 2010 Photographs by James Muriuki, Goethe-Institut Nairobi, Kenya


2010 Constructions, Kuona Trust, Nairobi Kenya



Artist Talks 


2022 Africa Fashion Expanded, V&A Museum & SOAS, U.K


2020 Kaspale’s Playground, Talk & Screening, Circle Art Gallery, Kenya


2020 Maternal and Creative Practice: Examining the State of the Field, London South Bank University, UK (Postponed)


2019 Mosquito & The Suit, M.Bassy, Hamburg, Germany


2018 Resident Fellow lecture by Syowia Kyambi, Academy of Fine Arts, Exhibition Laboratory, Helsinki, Finland


2018 Double Consciousness, Oldenburg University, Oldenburg, Germany 2017 Looking for Bridges / Forming Trajectories, National Museum of African Art Smithsonian, Washington D.C, USA


2014 1:54 FORUM 2014: Koyo Kouoh in Conversation with Miriam Syowia Kyambi and James Muriuki, London, UK




Certificates & Awards (Selection) 

2016 Emerging Voices 2016 Award, Shortlist Award for Art, Oppenheimer Funds / Financial Times


2008 International Society for Ceramics Art Education & Exchange, Kenyatta University, Thika, Kenya


2004 UNESCO prize for the promotion of the arts award, Bamako, Mali

2000 & 2001 Leadership Award, School of the Arts Institute of Chicago, U.S.A

1998 & 1999 Deans List, New Hampshire, U.S.A

1999 Merit of Art Award, New England College, New Hampshire, U.S.A 



Public Commissions, Collections & Art Fairs


2020 Photography Legacy Project, Aspire Art Auction, S.A

2016 Sindika Dokolo Foundation, Angola

2016 Devereux Collector, London, UK

2016 Miracle Marathon, Serpentine Galleries, London, United Kingdom


2015 Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town, South Africa

2013 & 2014 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London, United Kingdom

2013 Pulchri, Hague, Netherlands

2012 The Fair Bruneaf, Roots Contemporary Gallery, Brussels, Belgium

2011 Kouvola Art Museum Collection, Kouvola, Finland

2008 Kenya Administrative, Permanent Installation, Nairobi, Kenya

2008 Under the Sea, Kenya Institute of Administration, Nairobi, Kenya Infinity: Flashes of the Past, National Museum of Kenya, Permanent

2007 Installation, Nairobi, Kenya


Teaching Experience


2020 Hhjemmefra-artists-at-home-residency, Peer to Peer Mentorship, The Union, Oslo, Norway (online)

2019 Kunstpioniere Artist with Students in the Museum, MARKK Museum, Hamburg, Germany

2018 Studio Critique with the Academy of Fine Arts University of the Arts Helsinki Students, Helsinki Arts University, Finland

2012 Middle Leaders Conference, Karen Ardley Associates, Cairo, Egypt


2012 Lead Facilitator, Assessment in the Arts, International British Curriculum Schools Nairobi INSET, Hillcrest International Schools, Nairobi, Kenya


2011-2014 Head of Art & Design, Hillcrest Secondary School, Nairobi, Kenya

2008 The Aga Khan Junior Academy, Nairobi Arts Festival 2008, Nairobi, Kenya

2008 Lead Facilitator, Performance Art Workshop within the Primary Years Program, The Aga Khan Junior Academy, Nairobi, Kenya

2007 Lead Facilitator, Inside & Outside the Classroom: The Importance of Art Education, Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art, Nairobi, Kenya

2005 International Baccalaureate Eighth Primary Years Programme July Workshop: “The Arts as Inquiry within the Primary Years Program” Bucharest, Romania

2005 International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Beginners Workshop, Nairobi, Kenya

2005 International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Intermediate Workshop, Mombasa, Kenya



Books & Exhibition Catalogues


Kyambi, Holding Space. performingborders e-journal Fragments for Borderless Futures, U.K, October 2021


Kyambi. Becoming Kaspale. Nairobi Contemporary Magazine, Nairobi Kenya, July 2020.


Kyambi. Who Once Spoke? Who Speaks Now? An Artist Statement. Amani-Spuren kolonialer Wissenschaft /Traces of Colonial Science Germany 2019


Galarie Mitte im Kubo. Solo Exhibition Catalogue. Double Consciousness. Bremen, Germany. 2018


C. Liebelt, S. Böllinger and Ulf Vierke, Beauty and the Norm: Debating Standardization in Bodily Appearance, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018


National Gallery Zimbabwe in Harare, Makerere Art Gallery Kampala & Stätische Galerie Bremen, Kaboo ka Muwala [The Girls Basket] Migration and Mobility in Contemporary Art in Southern and Eastern Africa, Revolver Publishing, 2016

Texts by Hugh Murray, Woodrow Kernohan and Koyo Kouoh, Catalogue, Still (the) Barbarians EVA INTERNATIONAL – Ireland’s Biennial, 2016


Raw Material Company, Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality and the Body in the Work of Six African Women Artists, WIELS, Konsthalle Lund, FRAC Lorraine 49 North 6 East, 2015


Villa Empain,  Heaven and Hell. From Magic Carpets to Drones, Boghossian Foundation 2015


Edited by Koyo Kouoh, with texts by Sarah Adams, Eva Barois De Caevel, Ken Bugul, Frieda Ekotto, D.E.Fault, Koyo Kouoh, Alya Sebti, Body Talk, 2015


Contact Zones NRB Vol: 13. Miriam Syowia Kyambi. Nairobi: Native Intelligence, 2014


Coombes, Hughes & Munene. Managing Heritage, Making Peace: History, Identity and Memory in Contemporary Kenya. I.B. Tauris, 2013


Muriuki & Kyambi. Layers. Nairobi: Artist Book, 2012


Contact Zones NRB Vol: 05 Mwangalio Tofauti – Nine Photographers from Kenya, Nairobi: Native Intelligence, 2012.


Goniwe & Mboweni. SPace: Currencies in Contemporary African Art. Johannesburg: Africa World Press & Unisa Press, 2012


Dr. Kivubiro Tabawebbula. Utopia, Seven Artists Seek a Place in the Kenyan Art Scene. Nairobi: Kyambi/Kivubiro, 2004

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