Lauren Washington is changing the game.
We are keeping our promise to feature a different woman every week this month. This week’s feature artist is Lauren Washington. Lauren is a filmmaker, writer, photographer, and musician. She is currently a junior at Northwestern University. Lauren’s work is simply stunning. Her latest offering, a series titled “Cut Me:” graces our header this week. (Edited for length and clarity)
Women, specifically Black women, feature prominently in your work. Talk about why you are really intentional about representing Black women in your work.
I think it is almost an unconscious decision for me because women and specifically, Black women have had such a pivotal role in my life.
As a Black woman, I really echo Solange in how she speaks on doing everything with intention because with my work, I love centering Black women because for so long, that has not been the case.
As I grow into who I am as a woman and an artist, I want to depict the realities that I would love to see and build new worlds.
Centering Black women has been very healing and a spiritual experience for me because I get to spotlight us and honor all of the pivotal contributions we endlessly give to society each and every day.
The greatest part about it for me too is all of the different creative mediums I am able to amplify Black women whether it be through filmmaking or photography, I am always utilizing storytelling to intentionally represent Black women and Black people in all our multifaceted and multidimensional glory.
I love the “Cut Me” series of photos that you recently placed for auction. You’ve said that everything you do involves a story. What is the story behind this series?
This collection of NFT’s was something not only necessary and healing, but reminiscent of a time where I was feeling very stuck, hopeless, and on the brink of a transformation. Before the pandemic started, I had recently lost my grandfather and I had plans to go to London as well as France for the Cannes Film Festival.
Around the time of quarantine, I just was dealing with a lot of unprocessed grief and emotions after such an abrupt change that I am sure everyone can relate to, probably on a greater scale than my own situation.
I decided I wanted to do a self-portrait series re-creating album covers and creating my own album covers to get out of this stagnant feeling.
I landed on Moses Sumney’s single ‘Cut Me’ because the cover is absolutely gorgeous and the song just hit me emotionally because specifically, there is this line that says “If there’s no pain, is there any progress?” 2020 was one of the most painfully transformative years of life which I’m sure everyone can all relate to.
These pictures represent new beginnings and getting in touch with every part of myself to the point where I can’t hide from it anymore. Self-portraits feel like a gateway into one’s soul and it was a spiritual feeling for me to capture all of these with the intense colors, shooting them in my childhood room, and the story I was able to fully bring out of them with the editing process.
Each one has its own individual story but they all represent transformation, stepping into my power, being comfortable with vulnerability, and dealing with the weight of anxiety.
What do you most want collectors to know about your work?
I want collectors to know that my work is very intentional and reflective of my desire as a Black woman to imagine new realms and dimensions that center community whether it be through film, photography, or any medium.
Everything I do symbolizes a story because storytelling gave me purpose, it gave me a medium to be vulnerable, to center my thoughts, to uplift others, challenge the status quo, and create the reality that I believe in. My work is continuously taking on new forms so I want collectors to get to know me personally and be a part of the ride that is my artist journey into the metaverse.
What excites you most about NFTs and crypto art?
I am excited about the endless possibilities with NFTs and crypto art! For the longest, I have been frustrated with the gatekeeping and lack of inclusion within creative industries, but with crypto art, the tables can completely turn by giving power back to the artists.
Crypto art is purely centered around community and many artists have been emphasizing that with how they have been collecting other artists’ work and supporting one another which is extremely beautiful to see.
I have a long list of people to thank for educating me on crypto art and giving me support, but it all just goes to show why I love it so much because it is genuine and based around communities of artists.
I am also excited about the future of this space because it could be game-changing for independent filmmakers and shifting away from the norm of Hollywood.
How does your digital work compare to your physical artwork?
The theme is the same, all my work is a visual diary. The main difference is that my digital work usually has more visual information than my physical work. What was the impetus for your recent gallery show?
Not only did I want to create an alternative art-viewing experience but to also provide artists a platform to tell us, the viewers more about who they are and what their work is about. Will you be doing more curation in the future? Yes, I will be!
Have you collected any other artists’ work? Who are some of your faves?
I have collected from Chi Modu, an iconic photographer who has photographed some of hip hop’s greatest like Tupac, Biggie, Snoop, and more so I am incredibly honored and still freaking out that I was able to buy an NFT from him on Rarible!
I definitely encourage people to go check out his collection and photography, it is absolutely legendary and he has captured the culture so beautifully.
It is definitely my mission to collect from other artists because like aforementioned, I love this crypto art space because of the community and I definitely want to buy from other artists! Some of my faves are Andre O’shea, Shaylin Wallace, Kai Morton, Damon Davis, Faith-Love W, Isaac Udogwu, Cory Van Lew, Sean Williams, Jesiah, Blacksneakers, Diana Sinclair, Joelius Dubois, Poor Marty, Cynthia Bahati, all of the Project FILO artists and so many more. I honestly think I’ll curate an ongoing list of some great artists to follow and support!
How has the pandemic affected your work? Now that things are shifting back towards normalcy, does that open new creative possibilities for you?
It has been an extremely difficult and isolating time for everyone, but I think the downtime of quarantine forced me to really sit with myself and step into a new chapter. During the pandemic, I wrote a short film called ‘Restoration’ that centers grief through a dystopian lens and my first feature film.
I could not have imagined doing that because I was still playing with the idea if I wanted to pursue screenwriting and what my voice was, but I really had to do a lot of inner work and sit down to write which pushed me so far.
Also, while at home, I was able to work for months with my brother on Project FILO which drastically affected our vision for the business for the better. Overall, I think I shifted my thinking of oppressive systems drastically and really tapped into the importance of community the past year, so going forward I don’t know about normalcy, but it has definitely opened up a new worldview and mission for my work.
I feel very whole and driven with a new outlook and perspective on how to approach a lot of my art and entrepreneurship for the betterment of myself and other artists to create the landscape we want to see and believe in. Especially with crypto art, it has opened up huge creative possibilities for my artwork and my life because as a decentralized force, crypto can help rid old systems and shift the power.