Q & A with filmmaker Lauren Greenwald By: Alivia Seely

  As an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and professor, Lauren Greenwald has led a busy life thus far.

Greenwald put her many skills to the test with a video project instalment called Waterway that was showcased at Indie Grits this year. This was her first artist appearance at the festival. Indie Grits is an annual film festival hosted by The Nickelodeon Theatre. The four-day festival showcases film, music and visual artists in the southeast region.



As a South Carolina native, how did the flood affect your video installment for Indie Grits?


Greenwald: I recently returned to South Carolina after almost 20 years. I was originally planning on creating a video about the river for Indie Grits, but the flood and the history-making aspect of it prompted me to turn my focus towards the river and South Carolina waterways in general in history and documentation. I’m using a lot of found footage to create a video piece.



What type of preparation and background research did you have to do for this video?


G: This video piece was not a document, but a collection of imagery, historical and contemporary, of the rivers and waterways, both natural and manmade. I’m interested in the various paths water takes through the state and in representing it in a non-narrative manner.



How do you think this year’s festival theme Waterlines will effect the city of Columbia, given the flood back in October?


G: It’s was very timely, and I feel was a great response to the events of this past fall. Many natural disasters arrive and then disappear quite quickly from public consciousness, while the reality, especially for those who were directly affected, is much different. Just as Columbia is still working to repair the damage to the dam and other elements of infrastructure, just as people are still recovering from displacement and loss of property and life, this is an event that should still be present in our consciousness. I think the festival was a good commemoration and celebration of recovery and renewal.


In what ways did you see the Indie Grits festival increase art awareness for the city and people of Columbia?


G: I think it brings Columbia into the national and international arena. Indie Grits is a world-class film festival, and brings talent from well outside South Carolina. This year’s celebration of its 10th anniversary, with all of the programming available for free, hopefully encouraged the people of Columbia to engage in this amazing cultural event and to recognize that they should support such events in the future.



What advice have you been given that inspires your work, and what advice do you give your students?


G: I was told once not to worry about what I should do, but to pay attention to what I love and am attracted to. The rest will find a way of working out.

I advise my students to stay curious and to read about everything and look at everything. Learn another language, live abroad, be engaged, and keep trying new things. Art can’t be made without learning and investigation.




In between getting her bachelor’s from the College of Charleston in 1997 and her masters of fine arts from the University of New Mexico in 2011, Greenwald worked in the field of architecture and production. She even took her skills across the pond and owned her own project management business in France. Since 2011, she has taught photography at a college level, and in 2014, she joined the visual art and design faculty at the University of South Carolina.