Who is Lauren?
Self-expression is not a problem for Lauren Banka. Printmaker and poet, she always leaves her soul on the page. Packed into her five-foot frame are absurd amounts of creative genius; her thoughts spill out as elaborate metaphors, relating cancer to brine and her personality to her spirit animals. She is confident, striking and never hesitates to tell you what she thinks. If you run into her on campus ask her about privilege structures. She’ll smile, cock her head to the side and then change your outlook on life.
Want to connect with Lauren? E-mail her at email@example.com.
Kuumba.tv: Can you talk about your tattoos?
Lauren: My tattoos are my spirit animals. I have a possum underneath my left elbow and a hawk underneath my right elbow. I guess they represent the two sides of my personality.
Kuumba.tv: Where do printmaking and poetry meet for you?
Lauren: Of all of the fine arts printmaking is most often used for communication. You can make multiples of a print. That’s one of the defining factors. You can make as many as you want. You can give them away for free, which in some ways parallels the way language works. Especially if you’re talking to an audience, right? What’s the difference between making one plate and making 50 prints of it that are all a little bit different, versus writing a poem and doing it for an audience of 50 people?
Kuumba.tv: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Lauren: I was having lunch with Alison Reed. I wanna say freshman year. And I started talking about Carol King, who is like a 70s folk singer. And I started to say, “Like, you probably don’t know her,” because in my mind [Carol King] was just whiter than white. And obviously there is this latent structure that I had in my brain of who would have listened to who. I sort of stopped myself and I was like, “Oh my god! That was really racist!” And [Alison] was like, “Yeah that was pretty racist.” I felt like shit! I felt awful. Again, that’s a blatant example. I would not be surprised to hear that I’ve done worse and not known it….
Kuumba.tv: Why do you go so hard for women’s issues?
Lauren: When I go hard for women’s issues it’s because I feel like I have the solution. I feel like I have the answer.
Kuumba.tv: What is the answer?
Lauren: (Laughs) Oh now your gonna ask me…I think the answer is not to be afraid. And that goes really, really deep. I think that a lot of the things women get trained to do comes from fear. You know, there’s “don’t walk alone at night.” I walk alone at night all the time. It feels amazing. There’s “What’s gonna happen if I ask for a raise? What’s gonna happen if I ask my male peer how much he makes? What’s gonna happen if it’s more than I do?” There’s all these levels where, in situations where it’s on the fence, we’re trained to play it safe. And that’s not because it’s necessarily the best option. It’s because we’re trained to sort of accept what we have, rather than the fear of what might happen.
Collaborators:Ben Rhaming, Celso White, Sohrab Golestani