Lauralee Benjamin is a NYC based illustrator and painter. She always has been interested in the ways women harness and express their sexuality. In her work, Lauralee explores the connections between sex, love, lust, pain, revenge and control, based on her own experiences. She uses images appropriated from pornography to hijack the patriarchal sentiments and flip them into feminist narratives.
KALTLBUT: Tell us about your creative background – when did you first start illustrating/what really pushed you to do so?
Lauralee: I’ve been drawing as a hobby since I was little, then I went to school for art and was able to enhance my technical skills. It was about 4 years ago that I really started pursuing art as a full-time thing. I was going through a breakup and it was a natural outlet.
KALTBLUT: What medium/tools do you feel most comfortable with when creating your work?
Lauralee: I’ll always prefer paper and pencil but a close second is felt tip markers.
KALTBLUT: Are your illustrations inspired by personal experiences or of friends/scenarios you know of?
Lauralee: My illustrations and paintings are almost always inspired by a real event or feeling.
KALTLBUT: There is a certain denunciation about your illustrations, what are you inspiration?
Lauralee: That’s a first! I’ve never thought of it as denouncing, or “anti” anything, but I can see how that can be perceived from some of it. Some of my more aggressive work comes from dark emotions and moments I’m experiencing and that results in more provocative art.
KALTLBUT: What is the message you want to get across to viewers of your work?
Lauralee: I’d love to communicate how artful the body is, how expressive it is.
KALTLBUT: Have you found that your work has been responded to in a positive way? What has been the best reaction that you’ve received so far?
Lauralee: Luckily I’ve gotten very good feedback mostly, especially as I improve. I like when people relate something I’ve created to a specific situation in their lives. That always gives me validation.
KALTLBUT: Nowadays, everybody get a different definition for feminism. What’s yours? And how do you express it through your work?
Lauralee: I’m a fan of the original definition : a complete equality of the sexes – socially, economically, sexually and every other way. As a black woman I identify as an intersectional feminist, but only because some faux-feminists who happen to be white, have hijacked the movement and made it about trivial shit so the rest of us are forced to differentiate ourselves.
KALTLBUT: Have you found any other work/artists to be really inspiring currently?
Lauralee: I’m constantly inspired by my favorite current artists Alphachanneling, Toyin Odutola, Reginald Pean, and my all time favorite classic artist Man Ray.
KALTLBUT: Your illustration book “Queen of Your Body Parts” is out now, what is it about?
Lauralee: The book chronicles everything I drew for a period of two years. I was going through a dysfunctional relationship, multiple breakups, and other life changing events. My only outlet was to draw every emotion I felt manifested in the face and body of a woman. I was fascinated at the time, with porn and how the woman can look when she’s isolated from the scene. So the book is like a visual diary, illustrated with nude women : )
KALTLBUT: What is your ultimate goal?
Lauralee: Ultimately I’d like to move towards sculpture and installation art. I want by scale to get bigger as my inspiration increases.