We at WFSU DC have focused primarily on music as the way in which womxn fuck shit up in art… until now.
We are incredibly excited to welcome Lauren Ileana Sotolongo to the stage on March 24. Lauren is a D.C.-based artist expressing herself through spoken word, and bringing physical interpretation to her work with the help of dancer Samantha Sobash. I got to talk with Lauren about her inspiration and hope she finds through her art.
Name: Lauren Ileana Sotolongo
Location: Washington, D.C.
How do you identify? Queer
When/how did you first become involved in performance art?
I stumbled into spoken word poetry during my junior year of college. At the annual Fall Festival, I decided to perform a poem (I had been writing poetry consistently since I turned 19, after beginning to process a childhood experience of abuse). Though I didn’t know, that poem was my first spoken word piece and my first performance. After this I discovered Sarah Kay on YouTube, and became immersed in the idea of poetry as performance. Ironically, it was also during this time—after transferring to a Christian University—that I began to ask questions of my own sexuality, faith, and identity. Though institutionally, some of these questions were not fully supported, the students and faculty I spent time with (including members of the underground LGBTQ group on campus) were extremely encouraging.
How is your art attached to your gender identity? Did/does your identity play an integral part in the development of your art?
My art certainly reflects different facets of my identity. Being a female that presents as more androgynous is one part, being a white-passing Latinx person is another, and being a person of faith (still attending church some weekends, and being a former leader in that space) is another. I think my truest expressions of art, are the moments when I am most honest about my existence in all of these spaces. Each of us creates unique and powerful art when we unapologetically exist in our respective spaces (this is as true of the businessperson, as it is for the poet).
Who/what is your inspiration and why?
Overall, I think the paradox of being alive (the deep joy and the deep pain) is what inspires me to continue creating. In my life, these intersections happen through explorations of race, faith, and sexuality. People who inhabit these spaces also inspire me; this includes local organizers and creators of color, and the tiny Twitter universe of queer people of faith.
Why are you performing at WFSU DC?
I’m performing because I want to be uncomfortable in a way that pushes me into a new space with my work, and into a new space with the people I collaborate with. I decided 2018 would be the year I said “yes” to things that scare me, and this is one of those things.
How do you fuck shit up?
By existing in contradictory spaces, and then fighting through my anxiety to talk about it.