View the Image Slideshow for Filex Jacobson Msalu's Work (Opens a new window).
Artist: Felix Jacobson Msalu
Location: Arusha, Tanzania
Photos by Johan van Parys, Minneapolis, MN
In a world which was not supportive of his interests, Filex Jacobson Msalu always wanted to become an artist. Even as a child he was passionate about art because it made him happy and he was good at it. Though trained in several art forms, he is most prolific in Batik.
Originally from Indonesia, Batiks are made with a special wax painting process and a layering of different paint colors. Traders and missionaries introduced the technique into central Africa. Today, the technique is popular in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Tanzania.
Filex Msalu owns and operates Sunset Art Studio which is located across from the Arusha International Conference Centre in Tanzania. He works there together with six other artists whom he employs. Their work also supports the livelihood of several street vendor distributors.
The batiks created at Sunset Art Studio range from African scenes to abstract art to religious art. Encouraged to use his talent by a missionary Filex started painting scenes from the Bible situating them in traditional African settings. Filex and his colleagues now have painted the entire Christian narrative from an African perspective.