By Stephen Ssenkaaba
NUWA Wamala Nnyanzi, Uganda’s leading batik painter is in the United States to participate in a series of activities marking the Black History Month- an annual celebration in the United States, UK and Canada in honour of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.
For much of this month, this self-taught artist has been engaging the American public with his captivating artworks- teaching, celebrating life and also spreading the word about Uganda’s rich cultural heritage.
Nnyanzi’s work has featured in the 13th Annual Roswell Roots festival- the largest celebration of black history and culture in the state of Georgia.
Here, he conducted a batik art demonstration. He showcased the art of batik laced with vibrant colors and diverse techniques. He also gave his audience a chance to see how batik is created; its origins and the process through which this unique art form comes to life.
During one of his shows, Nnyanzi also dedicated one of his pieces to Chris Vasquez a deceased friend.
Nnyanzi has taken a proactive approach to his exhbitions in the US, inviting his audiences to participate in the painting exercise and where possible get the public to share their ideas.
One of his participants- an 8 year old girl took keen interest in the entire exercise.
“The young girl was very active and volunteered to assist me as I carried out the demonstration. She welcomed people and gave them my business cards. She also participated in choosing the colours I used. She was remarkable,” Nnyanzi says.
Nnyanzi also joined Wallene Jones and Keith Washington- two very dedicated promoters of contemporary African art to discuss the art of the exhibition "Gems of Africa."
Nnyanzi’s art exhibit has been well received and continues to form an important part of his ongoing crusade for Ugandan art as an intrinsic part of our own culture.
His work remains deep, and intricately designed, wrought with warm and passionate colours and often documenting, even commenting on the ways of lives of the Ugandan people.
The father of two children, Nnyanzi has been practicing original batik painting since 1978. His work has become world famous and is recognized and used in different parts of the world.
Some of his works appear on calendars, magazines, book covers and greeting cards, among them UNICEF greeting cards.
In 1992 he started Nnyanzi Art Studio in Kampala, where he teaches and promotes other talented artists.
He is a roving ambassador for the recognition of the arts as an important aspect of Uganda’s culture and heritage.