Congratulations Karen! Karen Senefru has put together a very cool piece, bringing technology and ancient form together. She describes it as a Techno-kisi, which is a first of it's kind modern form of the ancient nkisi .
From what I have learned so far, nkisi generally refers to a type of reverred 'container' of spiritually charged elements. Many include minerals, earth or relics from the grave of a powerful individual or relative. The nkisi draws upon the power of the dead, to provide exceptional human powers and to guide the living to go beyond the physical world and see the hidden sources of evil and illness. Nkisi served many purposes - largely civil in nature, they were used to maintain order and seal treaties, they were used in divination practices, for healing, or to give success in hunting, trade, or sex.
Here is Karen in the early stages of her project, dying the fabric that would be used to decorate the clay, paint, and dirt sculpture.
Karen's Techno-kisi includes a BUG, with a display of important people in her community. It stands over 5 feet tall. Not only is it striking and beautiful, but it's inspring to think of the symbolic power and this ancient tradition. It seems we don't have many of these spiritual tools or traditions these days. Here is the techno-kisi on display.
The piece is up at the Skirball Exhibition, An Idea Called Tomorrow, from November 17th to March 10th 2010.
Thanks to Ken here at Bug for making it happen and huge congrats Karen - awesome job.