Lyle Owerko first broke on to the art scene with his "Samburu" project featuring black-and-white portraits of an isolated, nomadic people in Northern Kenya, who remain mostly untouched by the Western world. Owerko's breathtaking photographs of one of the last warrior tribes still in existence are stark and fiercely beautiful, each dissociative portrait of the tribe reflecting their pride, calm, and remoteness.
Living in a remote part of Kenya, the Samburu tribe has been cut off from most of Western civilisation up until about 10 years ago when inter-tribal fighting began to subside and the Northern Territory of Kenya was opened up to travellers. Lyle describes the tribe as easily one of the most fascinating groups of people he has ever encountered. The Samburu are a prideful people who consult the stars for spiritual guidance. They maintain a warrior culture that is equal parts fierce and gentle. Known locally as "The Butterfly People," the Samburu are rumored to be a lost legion of Roman soldiers and cousins to the Maasai people of Kenya. This series of portraits represents a small slice of a larger project documenting the Samburu as they assimilate into a life increasingly influenced by technology and Western values. In conjunction with the mission of the Thorn Tree Project (www.thorntreeproject.com), this is a lifetime commitment for Lyle Owerko.
*A portion of all these print sales go to the Thorn Tree Project to benefit the Sereolipi Nomadic Education Foundation Inc., which directly supports the Samburu tribe associated with the photographic study.