Artist Jonah Batambuze’s story as told to Jacqueline Lara of Mpact PR:
Basketball has been a defining part of my life—I played competitively from the age of 10-21, and earned a full scholarship as a college athlete. I’m forever indebted to the life skills basketball taught me, and I call upon them daily. Despite a deep love for the game, a majority of my time was spent shuffling from practices, study halls and road trips, leaving little time for the “true” college experience. Thankfully, when my basketball eligibility ended, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Dublin, Ireland, which I jumped at with open arms–breaking free from my “basketball bubble.”
I departed for my adventure shortly after September 11th, and what a time it was to be abroad! It was an eye-opening experience having discussions with students about topics and viewpoints often missing from the U.S. dialogue. Like a sponge, I soaked in new experiences, cultures, and perspectives and developed lifelong friendships, met my now-wife, and returned to the U.S. in 2012 a “changed man.”
Back in Chicago, I developed interests and friendships I didn’t have time for when I was playing basketball. I spent a lot of time with Bryan Boline, a Columbia Art school graduate specializing in painting, sculpture, and wood-working, and he’s one of the most talented artists I know. The arts rubbed off on me, and I started exploring various mediums—mainly photography. In many ways, I approached this new craft with the same discipline, rigor, and practice from my basketball days. I created pieces that spoke to my experiences overseas by incorporating a spirit of freeness, culture and adventure.
I’d always had a fascination with New York City as it was known for producing the “best of the best.” As a child, I have fond memories of my mother–who hadn’t visited New York and isn’t from this country– singing “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra around the house. The seed was planted early, and NYC was a travel destination on my bucket list.
I traveled to New York City with my wife over the 4th of July weekend in 2003, and documented our experiences through photos. Although I’m born in Chicago and spent many years in the presence of the city’s great skyscrapers, I’d never witnessed anything like the proximity or scale of NYC skyscrapers.
“One of my favorite captures took place as we crossed the street dodging oncoming traffic–I knew I had one chance to capture this shot, which I named, “NYC x Sinatra.” (Pictured below).
About the Artist
Jonah Batambuze is 1/2 of the husband-wife team behind KampInd, which is a lifestyle brand inspired by culture x travel x fashion. KampInd creates accessories for trendy babies and toddlers, and NYC x Sinatra is the newest addition to their artistic experiences. For purchasing information, visit KampInd’s site to learn more about “NYC x Sinatra.” This is part of our Soul Story Sessions with artists and entrepreneurs.