STRATA

STRATA I, 2017 
Size: 6’3″ x 6’3″ 
Materials: Raffia, Cobalt Oxide, Copper and Aluminum
Skin into Blankets, 2018
45 x 43 inches
raffia, copper and cobalt oxide
“Fingers in the soil”, 2017
raffia and cobalt oxide
70 x 44 x 6 inches



STRATA is a series made up of eight textile sculptures. While each work takes on different forms and styles of sculpture, they all use the same materials: dyed raffia stained with cobalt. Raffia is an organic Congolese cloth used for making textiles in the textured and geometric Kuba style. Cobalt is a metal commonly found in mines in the Congo. Together, the raffia stained with cobalt create a stratification resembling mineral strata visible in the rocks from which these materials are mined and grown. Recently, cobalt has become a crucial commodity in the manufacturing of rechargeable batteries, namely, the ones that are found in cell phones. Because it is extracted through mining, the dangerous labor of collecting this material is outsourced to citizens of the Congo. These practices infringe on human rights laws and perpetuate colonial and neocolonial strategies of acquiring raw material from Africa with a disregard for the well-being of the workers. The visual strata in these works take on a double meaning and symbolize the stratification of humans in the earth as they collect raw material to be exported to Western countries.


The works in STRATA are made by a reverse mining practice whereby old American cell phone batteries—bought on eBay—are dismantled to extract the copper, cobalt oxide, and aluminum to create a dye. This process behind the finished sculptures serves as an exploration of the conditions and cost that underlie our being able to have cell phones at all. The raffia is dyed in this solution and then stitched together with the copper. The dying technique is a modified Kuba-making method. In breaking down the dead cell phone batteries to their baseline parts and re-using them in a historic Congolese method, viewers are engaging with and confronting the discordant tension of the charged materials.

“Three children stand and lay in the soil”, 2018, 
101 x 76 x 9 in
Raffia, cobalt oxide, copper, graphite, lithium
stargazer copy 2
Stargazer, 2017
65 x 38 x 99 inches
Raffia and Cobalt oxide
05_MuddyHeart
Karmali_Strata_II_3 copy
Muddy Heart, 2019
60” x 44″ x 6″
raffia, copper and cobalt oxide 
Rwenzoris, 2018
48 x 15 x 5 inches 
raffia, lithium, steel and cobalt oxide
new insta_201
“Blanket for the unknown provider”, 2018

42” x 67” inches

raffia, lithium, steel and cobalt oxide

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