✓ Regionally-recognised art training
✓ New and upcoming
Martin Mbuguah (b.2001), better known as TOSKAGO, is an artist born in Ol'Kalou, Kenya, raised in Indiana, and currently lives and works in Baltimore, MD. Born to a poor family of farmers and labourers, Martin’s formative years were characterised by a deep sense of anxiety, violence and instability. At six years old, Mbuguah and his family had a twist of fate when they won the coveted “green card lottery” and were offered the chance to move to the United States.
As a first-generation immigrant, Mbuguah faced many hardships in his journey to the Western World. The artist's anxieties took a different form as he attempted to reconcile his inherited Kikuyu culture and the last tie to his family and homeland. He also began to acclimate to his new racial identity as a "black man" - an identity not previously experienced having come from an ethnically and racially homogeneous village.
It wasn’t until his senior year that he discovered the power of art. After many warnings from teachers due to poor behaviour, one decided to question Mbuguah, pushing him to “try painting.” His infatuation with art and painting emerged during a painting commission on toxic relationships. By which, he realised that through his people’s ancestral practice of narrative he could bridge connections between himself and others.
Mbuguah’s works have been displayed in significant national exhibitions at venues such as the Pratt Manhattan Gallery (New York) and The National YoungArts Foundation Gallery (Miami, FL). His paintings are part of private and public collections around the world, including the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the St. Claire Collection, and the Swartz Collection. Mbuguah has also been the recipient of numerous prestigious national and international awards. He was a recipient of the coveted Gold Award from the National YoungArts Foundation, as well as a semifinalist for 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars. He currently studies painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and expects his BFA by 2024.