Non-Player Characters

Form+Color Explorations, Non-Player Characters, Lauren Howie, 2018-2020 Digital Painting in MS Paint

Ho, why is you here?, Non-Player Characters, Lauren Howie, 2020, Digital Animation, 10 second loop

If you don't act like you know...,Non-Player Characters, Lauren Howie, 2020, Digital Animation, 13 seconds

Sketch, Non-Player Characters, 2018, Lauren Howie, Digital Painting

'Non-Player Characters' is a collection of drawn and animated sketches of the characters I have used as reference for my work for the past five years. I am interested in exploring questions about identity, belonging and community storytelling with these designs. The Aesthetics of the characters are pulled from some real world sources. Their regalia is inspired by Instagram hijabi fashionistas, Medieval Fantasy Role Playing Game staples, Egungun masqueraders and hip hop. The subtitles are references to the dichotomy between my inner-monologues (which I often experience as snippets of lyrics from rap songs) with the way I move through the world (which is still closely tied to the way I have been encouraged to move through the world by my grandmother). Chastisements are often the interaction that religious women from her generation have to the music and dance movements I grew up identifying with. In her childhood she was taught that speaking 'correctly', coiffing her hair, and setting a table with separate salad and dessert forks were essential expressions of respectability. She stressed the importance of these ways of being to me in my childhood, in her youth and in her mother's youth, these 'respectable' rituals were considered essential to thrive as a good Black women in Baltimore. The subtitles and titles of "Go, Best Friend" and "Ho, Why is you here?" are taken from Tokoyo Vanity* and Flo Milli songs, respectively. "...If you don't act like you know!" is taken from my mother. I find myself holding these and similar phrases in defiance of silencing mechanisms that I've come to understand stem from internalized racism, and classist shame at expressions of 'ratchet' expressions of joy, and/or confidence. In Non-Player Characters, they are tied to almost solemn characters from another world, reaching through a veil to pique the memories of those who may have heard those songs or phrases before.