We had the good fortune of connecting with Chelsea Mukenya and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chelsea, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m Kenyan, born and raised in the capital city Nairobi until age 11 when my family relocated to Lusaka, Zambia. Each place I’ve lived has had a great impact on the person I am/becoming. Growing up in Nairobi gave me a profound sense of freedom and safety that I carry with me not only in my work but in this world. One of my favorite childhood memories is getting to go to the beach every year- I can still see the baobab trees and smell the ocean as we got closer to Mombasa. Living in Zambia taught me the importance of stillness. It’s a much slower paced country compared to Kenya and it really helped me understand the value of being present. Zambia gave me one of the greatest gifts because it was there that I discovered my love for photography and so much more. I currently live in Lawrenceville, Georgia and living here is teaching me the importance of balance. I remind myself not to forget the lessons the places before taught me; I’m still learning a lot but I’m so grateful for the abandance of community and growth around me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love photography, any form of self expression and connection. I took a break from photography for a while and started to get back into it recently. It’s already been so rewarding being able to build relationships with other artists and people that inspire me to be better. I think what sets my work apart is the fact that I really make an effort to engage with whoever it is I’m taking pictures of and connect with them on some kind of a personal level. The things that have gotten me to where I am today are my family and friends, trusting myself, taking my time and learning to be intentional with everything. My hope is that whenever anyone gets the chance to engage with my work they’re able to feel a familiarity (like home or a friend), calm and to connect with it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would definitely take them to the different museums and galleries because they also love art. I would love to have a picnic with them for brunch if the weather is nice at Piedmont park. We’d have lunch at Circle Poke because they make the best poke and then have dinner at JCT Kitchen and Bar because their menu is amazing and they have great cocktails! I would introduce them to all my amazing friends!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Faith Wright who is my dear friend and an incredible writer/poet. Her work is so beautiful and vulnerable. I love that it always gets me to reflect and engage in conversations that aren’t always had but that are so important to help build community/safety.
Picture of myself taken by @FRIENDSONFILM 1/4: self portrait of myself 2/4 model: Fatou Bessem 3/4: Fatou Bessem 4/4: Almasi Maluki