Bio/Artist Statement
Lauren Howie is an artist working in digital painting, animation and game design based between Baltimore, Maryland, USA and Fès-Meknès, Morocco. She obtained her BFA from The Cooper Union in 2018. Her work centers around the task of reconciling exterior narrations of community, nation and ancestry with her interior experiences of those subjects. Her animations follow the purveyors of goods and services in a fantasy world, which is built around themes of Economic systems as Empire, Islam, Arabization, community, Blackness, and unreachable homelands. Choreographies of colorful masked beings working and socializing investigate the relationship between the individual and the collective. The characters sometimes center their ancestry or their ties to a plot of land in their movements. In other moments they allow market forces or songs stuck in heads to guide them. Through depicting these little workers cultivating land, maintaining homes, communicating with trade partners and extracting resources from their environments she asks viewers to question the structure of that world. When and how does land there become "owned" and when and how one becomes native? How does information travel and how are investor-state dispute settlement agreements reached? The Aesthetics and movement of the world are pulled from some real world sources. The regalia is inspired by hijabi fashionistas, Egungun masqueraders and 90s hip hop. The camera movement in the videos is reminiscent of side scroller video games and the movement of the characters at times is reminiscent of African and Afro-diasporic dance. The environments are mixes of imagined West African countrysides and The American South, famous ancient ‘worlds’ such as The Indian Ocean World, and trade routes such as The Silk Road. These elements coalesce into short looped videos and stills focused on characters movements in response to their surroundings, video game-esque approaches to environment art and vibrant regalia.