3 Questions Digital Series

Alisa Banks

An interview from Art in Embassies 3 Questions Digital Series with Alisa Banks, who speaks about her creative process and artwork.

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Full Transcript

Hi, my name is Alisa Banks. I create stories in 2D and 3D form using multimedia. My three themes that I cover are terrain, body and home. And I feel like whatever I am, whatever story I’m telling, whether it’s my story or my interpretation of someone’s story or someone’s stories from their own, in their own words, is kind

of from those three things. I come from a really creative family, even though they’re not a family of I guess they never call themselves artists, but people always made things. I have, you know, my aunts and uncles. They either did some type of hand work or worked with their hands.

They did quilting the women or colters needle workers, lace makers. They all made things. And as a child, I was just always so taken and and mesmerized by just taking a raw material and fashioning it into something. And my last year of grad school, I wandered around a library.

It was really hot outside. It was 100 degrees streak in Texas. I went outside in the library and I saw this book hanging off a shelf. It was just plain clothbound book. And I opened it up and they were going to spend Quilter’s.

I thought, oh, my gosh, this reminds me of my grandmother. Even though her quilts didn’t look like that, it just for some reason it just struck a chord. And I went back to my studio and I cut up all of my oh, it’s and refashion them into a kind of quilt like objects.

So I think that began that really looking at that running cross, that that book really kind of reconnected me with that creative aspect of my family. And from that point on, I’ve just search for ways to incorporate stitch and text.

And in the storytelling, I thought was really interesting, because whenever I looked at paintings, I always wanted to know what the story was and not the story. The story that we all get about the story that the celebrities have or the famous have the heroes.

I really wanted to know about the unseen heroes. What about the everyday folks? And if you look at a still life of a table scape, what is it that is saying? Where is everybody else? What is that their table?

And so those are the kind of things that I, I was drawn to. So so now I’m kind of combining all three together, stitching and painting and the words the stories are coming together, whether they’re three dimensional or flat, two dimensional surfaces.

So my family’s history is agrarian. My mom’s family had their farm, but my dad’s family was a sharecropper, and so his farm life was quite different from my mom’s farm. I was really interested in how a person who had such a troubled history with the land could still love it and enjoy gardening.

As a child, I was not a fan, so I was the bookkeeper that had to be made to go outside. And so it wasn’t until later, maybe in high school or so, that I started really gravitating towards plants.

And over the years, it’s just become stronger. I’m really interested in the world that we live in. We’re part of that world. We often think of ourselves as the world is here for us to use it, or the earth is here for us to use it.

But we’re as much a part of it as it is of us. And I feel that connection much stronger as the years go on that we really need to take care of the plants. My parents used to say we took care of the land and the land took care of us and everything that they needed.

For the most part, they got from the land. How does that work from an artistic standpoint? Perhaps I don’t need to you know, I don’t need to make cotton. I don’t need to grow cotton. But what would cotton mean for me as an artist?

If there’s a walnut tree? I could eat the walnut just like my forebears did. But as an artist, I can use the whole of that walnut to make ink. So I’m really interested in how how you can look at aspects of farming or living on a farm, how they will relate from an artistic standpoint.

For instance, let’s just say you’re growing food crops. What would an artist grow for? Art crops? They’re the same crops. How would you use them any differently? I’m really interested in exploring that. I’d like for people to ask me about the story behind it, because since I’m a storyteller, I like to tell the story and not necessarily

read the story that’s in there, but say, OK, what was I thinking when I did this piece and why did I put that there instead? I think those are really interesting questions. Or why did I pick that story or that aspect of a story to tell?

I’m really, really overjoyed. And people look past what they see because there are a lot of layers that are built into the work. And there are a lot of, I guess, messages in their messages that I put in intentionally, some that I some of that were not intentional.

But then when someone looks at it and they see it in their eyes and they ask me a question based on their experiences and their stories, I think those are really interesting questions.