Karima Cammell is a painter, author, and entrepreneur from Berkeley, California. Under her Dromedary Press imprint, she publishes illustrated books on themes of friendship, perseverance, creative courage, and respect for the natural world. Her books have garnered a number of publishing industry accolades, including an Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY) and an International Rubery Book Award nomination. Cammell is a two-time honoree at the Berkeley Public Library Foundation’s annual Authors Dinner.
Formal training in art history and evolutionary botany guides Cammell’s selection of subject matter and art materials. This is evident most recently in her 2016 work The Troll Cookbook, a folklore-flavored guide to the transformative power of cooking. Several of the book’s 40 illustrations reference painting traditions throughout the ages, providing readers with a history of art as well as a celebration of the creative magic that is uniquely human.
Cammell’s personal motto is “Believe in the fantasy and make it real.” She exemplifies this credo by narrowing the distinctions between her art and the rest of her life. Her own handmade clothing, inspired by traditional and historic costume, has been featured in articles in the San Francisco Chronicle and the premiere issue of Where Women Create. Cammell makes regular trips to the Carnival of Venice in extravagant costumes of her own design, and she is quoted extensively on the cultivation of a personal style in Sheila Heti’s 2014 book, Women in Clothes.
In 2001, Cammell founded Castle in the Air, a shop, arts school, and online community that inform and inspire artists and dreamers around the world. Guided by a vision of the ideal artist’s studio, Castle in the Air has led revivals in forgotten and endangered arts including calligraphy and crepe- paper crafts.
Cammell’s current studies include egg tempera painting and the archetypal truths found in fairytale traditions. She lives in Berkeley, where she is at work on her next books.
The Holton Studio Gallery is proud to be presenting “High Water: Works by Karima Cammell,” for which the artist wrote this statement:
In 2015, at 41, a confluence of chemical imbalance and stress caused my mental health to become untethered. I woke up flooded by night sweats, tears, terrifying news, and noise.
HIGH WATER illustrates one woman’s vision of the changing shoreline as she becomes unmoored by internal tidal shifts. Looking for a place to land she scans the shore, finding a world both on fire and drowning beneath waves of social, political, and climate change.
To save herself she becomes a chimera—a fire-breathing monster with scales and wings—armored and able to swim and fly. The magic to transform herself comes from love.
In my crazy philosophy the power of transformation is the old magic that makes us human. Transformation can be as simple as turning apples into applesauce or as complex as facing the discord of anxiety and fear and retuning it to harmony and wellbeing.
When we add the power of imagination to this old magic we discover art, a power that makes anything possible.