About K'Owino Batiks

The Artist

Martin Owino is a native born Kenyan of the Luo tribe. He has been doing batik for most of his life, and is the third generation of batik artists in his family. Batik is a traditional form of art in Kenya, and can also be found in many other African countries. Owino uses images of everyday life in East Africa to capture the essence of his culture. His batiks are colorful and eye-catching, and he hopes they portray the warmth and beauty of his people and homeland.

Owino made a living in Kenya selling his art work at open air markets in Nairobi and Kisumu, Kenya; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Zanzibar. His work was also featured at the US Embassy and USAID in Kenya. In 2001, Owino moved to the United States. He lived in Oregon through 2008, where he showed his work throughout the Northwest. Owino is currently based in Maryland, where he continues to show his work at art festivals and markets.

When people visit Owino in his booth, he welcomes them as if they were in Africa. He enjoys sharing stories of his homeland, using his batiks to better describe the people and culture of East Africa.

The Process

Owino sketches or prints an image on raw cotton fabric. To color the piece, he applies several alternating layers of paraffin wax and natural plant dyes, using a resist technique. When he has finished coloring the batik, he irons it and adds finishing touches with a black marker. Each batik is made one at a time so no two are alike. The wax acts as a natural preservative, so the colors will not fade and the piece will last for generations.