Jen Banks is one of the featured women in The Wild Women Exhibition and is a leader in yoga, running, and blogging using her experiences to give back and make a change for the better in our community. When Jen found out she was nominated to be a featured as a wild woman, she was a little shocked. She says “I never quite let events or honors seep in because I don’t ever feel my work is done. I think this narrative isn’t unique to me—many of us who don’t quite fit into feminine projections can feel weird or unworthy. This nomination helped combat that narrative and helped me to realize that unconventional people and personalities are just as needed in the world as those who are in the mainstream. I was worried I wouldn’t have the right clothes, etc. but I embraced the situation and was just myself! Hoodies and all.” Jen said that the concept of the phoenix, rebirth, and fire were important to her, so we decided to do her portrait session at Vedauwoo in Medicine Bow National Forest, a place she trail runs frequently and is close to her heart. We made a roaring fire and waited for the sun to go down. Once our portrait session was over, we talked around the fire late into the evening and got to watch the stars come out. Someone happened to just leave two sturdy chairs on the hillside, which you can see in her Wild Woman portrait above, that we ended up bringing to the fire since none of us bought anything to sit on but blankets and snow. Sometimes life hands you just exactly what you need when you need it. Definitely cannot complain about that! Read on to see more of Jen’s interview and unique perspective.
What do you think of the Wild Women Exhibition?
“These powerful portraits and vignettes – from community women in Laramie, Wyoming illustrate the ways that these women have an impact on their community whether it be in the areas of access to education, employment, political power, reproductive health services, violence prevention, or women as entrepreneurs. The women featured are brilliant and resilient and demonstrate their grit in Wyoming in many different ways. They create clothing, music, art, writing, and most importantly—they create change and pave the way for future wild women.
Laramie artist Allison Pluda has an eye for how women are typically viewed and depicted in photographs and challenges those conventions letting each participant have a say in how the photos might appear. She has use to exhibit to use art to change traditional opinions that have historically shaped the female persona, particularly in the west.
Allison and the Wild Women have gathered to play with the dualities of women in the American west and world, letting the viewer conceptualize the rebellious woman and relinquish the dualities to let women exist both as saints and sweeties, rough yet soft. Personally, the exhibit gives me space to be who I am—I’m not quite a face-shot black and white photo type person. I’m a bit rough around the edges, and individualist who cusses a lot. This exhibit let me be truly and utterly myself in my human authenticity.
It’s been a very positive experience with Seneca Creek Photography, and all in all an excellent learning/networking opportunity for me as a yogi/runner/blogger who is fairly fresh into her professional career. I appreciate all the help and guidance Allison gave me in the months leading up to the exhibition. Allison is extremely professional, yet laid back. She is passionate about her work and has insight and vision that bring the best out of anyone. ”
What keeps you wild?
“I would say that I keep me wild! 😉 no matter how much I try to squash down the fiery side of me, it will always come up because it is genuinely who I am! I think its so very important to stay authentic in a world that seeks to monetize people and activities and then create competition when someone does try to create or reach for innovation. Its important to stay wild because we are all wild in one way or another.”
What advise do you have for other women to stay wild?
Read Jen’s Inspiring Story
She is currently headed to Douglas, Wyoming within the next few weeks to facilitate a workshop for those in recovery. Follow her and read her inspiring story at FireOrPhoenix.com or give her a call at 307-760-0422. Click here to learn more about The Wild Women Project or nominate a wild woman you know to be featured in the next exhibition.