The Liberty Building is always pleased to bring Sironka back into the building. At one time he even had a studio space with us and we miss having his kind nature and thought provoking stories at our disposal on a daily basis. So now we settle for him sharing his brilliant artwork with us. Take some time to get to know the man behind these heart felt batik works of art.
Describe your work in 100 words.
I paint on white canvas or cotton fabric material using a technique known as batik. This art form originates from Java in Indonesia, and involves an alternating application on hot wax and cold water fabric dyes on the material to create my paintings. All my paintings are geared to helping tell about my Maasai culture and every facet that I portray in accompanied by a written caption to enhance greater understanding of the subject I am presenting. I am also a story teller and teach classes in batik as well as giving lecture presentations on the Maasai culture in schools, colleges and universities.
What’s your creative background?
In my youth I dabbled in water colour and mostly in oil painting. I have not had formal training in art, and have chosen to work in batik as I felt that this was a very much ignored technique in the art world. I have for over 25 years now been able to perfect my technique in the wax and dye application process and have had the privilege of being invited to hold workshops and lectures on both batik art and Maasai culture presentations to countless schools, colleges and universities here in the United States and in Europe as well.
What role do you think the artist have in society?
I believe that “Art is society, and society is the ingredient from which art is created!” Art is a mirror of society from many dimensions, and hence the saying, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!I may not at times understand that which may attract another in art out there. Nor do I expect everyone to embrace MY art. But it is important that even as we do not have similar tastes for artistic expression, we must all strive to find a place in our hearts to seek an understanding of and to embrace all creative work!
How has your work changed over time?
I believe that batik art is a very difficult form of creative expression. To be able to understand how hot wax flows from different sizes of paint brushes onto the canvas, and the impact or not that cold wax can have on fabric as I paint has helped me transition from what I would call a batik artist to a master of my talent!I have also enhanced the amount of detail that my paintings have had and in so doing have justified the elevated but very much affordable prices on my paintings.
Do you have a favorite local artist that inspires you?
I have several. Gordon Wilson, has a style with his brush strokes and color choices that continue to baffle me! Other great artists that I can name right away are Katherine Nelson, Karen Mobley, Christina Doubel, Glenice Moore and photographer Jesse Swanson!
Where do you look for inspiration in creating your work?
My work is inspired by my surroundings. Most of my life is now embedded in American culture, and what I experience here helps me share the reciprocal cultural experiences of my people the Maasai.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I have a strong love for acting! I have had the privilege of acting in a few major movies back in Kenya, and am still pursuing the possibility of entering the world of movies! I have also worked as an art therapist at a local hospital here in Spokane, and working with children in the cancer ward touched my heart for life!
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I remember very fondly being asked to present my art to the then first lady of South Africa, Merike DeKlerk, and presenting another two paintings by request of the US Embassy in Kenya, to former first lady of the US, Roslyn Carter, and to Mimi Gates, when the two visited Kenya in 2006.
Be sure to check out more of Sironka’s work on FLOOTIE.