Cali M. Banks

Artist Statement

I explore the reclamation of identity through performative photography and videography. Meaning, I examine the complexities of the female body and experience through photography, videography, performance, and new media. This duly explores the ideas of public versus private narratives, which acts as a catalyst for discourse addressing the familial and the feminine. The aesthetics of my work can be described as raw and intentionally unpolished. This formal strategy of leaving the work unconventional also relates to the context of my work, being that women’s experiences are never resolved, nor can be encapsulated in a neat, tidy box. Being interested in constructing intimate experiences, I create immersive multimedia installations, photographic prints, and performances. I sew into images, move objects around on a flatbed scanner, and burn images. I incorporate gestural actions to push the work beyond a flat, two-dimensional rectangle. When the emulsion is burned, or there is a second layer of material on top of the image, it creates a more sculptural approach to the medium. I do not feel like I have full ownership over the final products of my work unless I manipulate it in some way, usually by hand. With regard to my installations, I provide options for viewers to opt into their level of immersion. I enjoy pushing the boundary of being completely engulfed within the work, but only so far as the spectator remains comfortable. These ideas return to consent for me. As the artist and visual consumer, it is important that I am cognizant of viewership and protecting the audiences that view my work. My scholarly interests combine sculpture, performance, and image-based work into intimate, deeply engaging, and potentially hypnotic installations. I also explore how the work changes from venue to venue. I contemplate what these images embody in a garage, basement, or outside in a corner, versus how they would be perceived in a sterile, white gallery space. I am attentive in exploring the categorization of “indigenous art”. I am constantly questioning the framework of indigenous art, and strive to subvert those parameters. I also investigate the binaries and categories made for race and gender-driven artwork. I contemplate how to use my light-skinned privilege to elevate voices that are historically silenced as well. It’s important to decolonize the spaces we are learning and researching in as artists and scholars, especially as I am a direct product of assimilation. I am curious in my endeavors of pushing the boundaries of identity politics and identity-based art, with a hint of abjection. I juxtapose the beauty and repulsion that surrounds woman-identifying individuals and their bodily functions, that are commonly rejected by American, patriarchal social orders. I am persistent in examining if our bodies are a residue of humanity, or if we are in a time where we can reclaim our bodies as ours and reassert our rights.


Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Cali M. Banks is an interdisciplinary artist of Lenape/Munsee and Scottish descent. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art and Technology and Global Health Studies from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and a Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Media Arts Practices at the University of Colorado Boulder, specializing in photography. In recent times, Banks has exhibited work at RedLine Contemporary Art Center, Tiger Strikes Asteroid Philadelphia, Araguato – Festival de Arte Sonoro y Música Experimental de Villavicencio, PhotoNOLA, Georgia Art Space, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and Collective Misnomer. She is also a featured artist in Issue #24 and Issue #26 of The Hand Magazine, and has been published on