Interdisciplinary Lebanese-American visual performative artist Bana Kabalan is profiled.
- I'm here with visual
and performative artist, Bana Kabalan.
Bana how are you doing?
- I'm pretty good. How are you doing?
- I'm doing very well, thank you.
So where did you grow up
and can you tell us just
how did you get your usual creative side
to express your thoughts about the world around you?
- So I grew up in Metro Detroit.
I'm Lebanese-American first-generation
and my parents wanted me to mainly do the science route.
And at the high school that I was in,
we could use an elective for art.
And so I did that
and then found myself really loving both biology and art.
whenever I was in the US growing up,
I didn't feel super American,
I always felt like there was this disconnect.
And then when I did go to the Middle East,
I always don't feel Arabic enough.
But where am I?
There is no really this middle ground.
And so I found that what's for me to do,
and for me to feel this sense of home,
was to really just create it myself
and to embellish it
and decorate it myself
and use aspects of things that I like
and things that inspire me.
And I found that really working with Arabic elements,
Arabic motifs, somethings like that really added to it.
And then using this natural elements also
was what made me feel like
I had more of a deeper understanding of myself.
Because I also study ecology,
I'm constantly looking around, questioning,
making different questions and hypotheses
about why things are occurring
and if different habitats and ecosystems.
And so, in the same way of
exploring as an artist
I'm looking around thinking,
what can I collect here?
What is this habitat have for me to make
and incorporate into my artwork.
So it's this curiosity of nature
that really drives me
with both my practice in science
and then also my art practice.
- And then so can you tell us just a little bit more
into what your art medium is.
And why do you choose to express yourself in those ways?
'Cause it's very sculptural
but also something that you can wear, which is really.
- I really was fascinated with just creating spaces and
installations that you could go into.
Like creating this other worldly experience
but then kind of forget about the outside world.
Just this kind of safe space area.
And so I started off doing those installations
and then thought well why not go further and wear them
and perform in them
and create these different organisms
and things like that
that you could embody.
My creative process is first what I do is
I collect a bunch of stuff,
lay them out
and just usually make a mold.
I get wire that I usually find
to just create the structure of the piece.
And then just start attaching things,
see what types of shapes morph out of it.
And I typically like the pieces
to just be something that evolves as I'm working on it.
I want people to feel comfortable
when they're in the spaces that I created.
Or in the performances that I have
removes oneself from whatever space they're in
or whatever dynamic they're in currently
and then puts them in a new place.
And I think that that's what
the purpose of my artwork
always was for me to just have these like
areas of feeling comfortable
when dealing with childhood trauma,
dealing with other aspects of my life
that was negative.
What I find solace in
is just creating this world around me
and I really want other people to experience that.
- What do you think an artist's responsibility is
in creating social change?
- Specifically for me,
I choose to talk about
experiences that I have
being a child of immigrants.
My parents immigrants from Lebanon.
So incorporating this dynamic of like the bridge between
(mumbles) the east like that.
So I also incorporate my environmental issues
that I think are very important.
So I think that as artists,
to express oneself,
and in the lives that they have
and the experiences they have is important.
With the movement, the Black Lives Matter Movement,
it's I think important to have their voices heard.
I think it's really important to
collaborate with these artists,
have the community learn more about their experiences.
- And then just looking ahead,
what does the future look like for you?
- I definitely want to keep going with ecology.
I really hope that.
The more things that I learn with my research,
the more I will incorporate and really enhance my artwork.
And it will be the select feedback loop of
what I'm learning from both practices.