Wire Sculptures

Wire Sculptures

Opening Reception, Wellesley College, MA

Clyde Bango’s intricately woven wire frames can be loosely described as line drawing in free space, but they represent much more. The hand-made sculptures evolved from the artist’s childhood experiences of crafting toy cars out of recycled wire in Harare, Zimbabwe. Bango’s artwork represent adamant resilience to growing up yet accepts the responsibilities and challenges that inevitably come with being grown up. The themes are very personal and often political. Subjects are derived from memories, art history and current affairs, and they showcase a range of innovative techniques that address surface modeling, abstract geometry and rendering of micro detail with steel wire.  When the final product emerges, it is stripped of all the coldness of steel but luscious with life, spacious in volume, and in some cases captured in motion. Bango is a young artist seeking to make his mark as a contemporary African artist.

Clyde Bango: Playing Grown Up

Two of the most popular questions that I get about my artwork rank among the toughest three for me to answer. First, the viewer notices the detail on the 3D wire sculptures and almost immediately gasps: ‘How long does this take you to make?’

I smile, trying to buy a moment to think of a sophisticated answer. I ramble about the time it takes me to think about the concept, layout the proportions, and how I work on multiple pieces at the same time... but usually get away without a straight answer. I make sure it’s a true answer, nonetheless. It's quite a painstaking process placing every leaf on the trees, but then I try to downplay the magnitude. I mean, seriously, do I have a social life?  However, It’s all fundamental to why I do it in the first place.


I graduated from Bates College in 2011. I had no job offer - partly because I had no idea what I really wanted to do, mostly because I did not have a lot of choices. I am from Zimbabwe, so you could say why not go home and figure it out. You see, Zimbabwe is a longer story, and going back appeared the more complicated decision at the time. It’s supposed to make sense because all my family is back home. But if you consider the fact that my parents only have a vague idea of what I studied in college or what it means, you might get a feel of my predicament. All they know is that I should be a doctor by now.


So I looked for a job. First and second months were fun. I drafted cover letters and corresponded with close calls. I got regret email after regret, and even had two opportunities where I actually got the offer but they rescinded because suddenly the job was no more available. It’s easy to assume that I was the only one going through this, given my background and limited network. However, I understood that a lot of recent graduates faced the same frustrations. The only difference was that I did not have close family to run to, or room to move back into. I was on my own, and responsibilities were piling on fast. I fell back to what I do best. Play. I made artwork just to take my mind off the uncertainty. To some extent, I wanted to protect myself by keeping to happy thoughts. It’s always been my defense mechanism since growing up. As I begin to understand how the world works, I struggle to accept whether the challenges, dysfunctions and disparities should be reflected in my largely innocent work. I could easily use my identity as the excuse. But a question lingers; do I have to grow up?


Six months without a real job, yet all I did was play. I produced a lot artwork and laid down concepts for a lot more to come. I finally got a great job at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, but still, I could not stop working. My artwork is personal. I embed secrets within every piece. Some show this clearer than others, but it means a lot when a viewer can relate to any part of my story. My work ethic takes in everything I’ve got, and I can’t measure it by the time I put down. It’s hard to say anyway because my pieces are never completed, even when they are finished.

So, when you ask me how long it takes me to make the sculptures, you should be ready to sit down for a coffee because I could use a break.

Second, the viewer steps back, walks around and asks: ‘How much does each piece cost?’
I smile wider and say, ‘would you like me to quote that in Zimbabwean Dollars?’

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