Discipline: Visual Art – mixed media

Tahir Karmali

Discipline: Visual Art – mixed media
Region: Brooklyn, NY
MacDowell fellowships: 2016

I am a visual artist who pairs materials and portraiture to define personal narratives through the mixed mediums of photography, paper making, and installation. My expression describes economic and political accounts and pronounces them with a single material or object.

My interest in outlier communities whose identities are shaped by economic, political, and social systems is transcribed into narratives describing the wide-ranging reality of the human experience. I wish to coax the viewer into understanding the subject beyond its flat-face description by utilizing commonplace materials and creating a bridge between the viewer and subject. The materials I use are dictated by the perception and value of an object in a narrative; whether it is a valued item through the eyes of a male sex worker in Nairobi or a plastic-veiled apartment of a New York immigrant.

Currently, I am combining digital photography and portraiture with papermaking. This allows me to deal directly with the material to craft concepts around the process and abstract how the portrait is presented. I am using this method to explore my Kenyan-Indian heritage.​



Tahir Karmali worked in the Firth studio.

Originally a working barn perched atop the namesake hill of Hillcrest Farm, this building was converted to serve the arts in 1956. A grand set of windows was installed to make the large interior suitable for visual artists, bringing in abundant natural light from the north. The addition of a screened porch and accessible entrance ramp…

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