Lorna Alkana, Exit Poll

Lorna Alkana, Exit Poll

Is your work political?

For me it is. My autobio comics, “Affect,”  are political in their representation of my thoughts and ideas. My art is political in its use of public space and its invitation for collaboration and impromptu making. My design is political in its content curation and surreal premises (Diplopoda Caracaras/@dplpd_crcrs, a time traveling design practice, Los Angeles Word Salon/@LAWordSalon, an open mic). 

I think everything is political. My work is a voice I have in the influence machine. I am looking to influence opinions and decision making.

Recently I collaborated with the band WASI on their New All-American residency at The Satellite in Los Angeles. The design concept centered around our agency regarding the American identity. Through the all-American pass-time of baseball, we looked to traverse time with the audacity of hope and the rage of the underdog with reclamation, snark, and heart: a NEW All-American residency.

For the 2019 AICAD Conference I collaborated with Kimmy Bartle on a multichannel essay called SyllabUS. The presentation was a graphic manifestation of Bartle and my conversations and research about the origins and functions of a class syllabus, what it feels like to be included in an academia, and university policies that aim to support and protect students.

What is the place of literature in politics?

Reading and writing are political acts. It’s tough for me to disconnect politics from literature, decision making from literacy. There’s so much power in writing, reading, communication and the distribution of information. 

Both politics and literature use rhetorical devices and writing conventions to advocate, create, and critique policies that govern how people live in the world. 

What is your favorite political work?

  • Lorna Simpson’s photography, film, sculpture and collages.
  • Kara Walker’s installations.
  • Octavia Butler’s “Kindred.”
  • Teka Lark’s Facebook feed.
  • Eduardo Galeano’s “Genesis.”
  • Cecilia Vicuña’s art exhibitions and book “Seehearing the Enlightened Failure.”
  • @Joannathangiah’s typographic wearables and Instagram posts featuring submitted quotes of the worst things someone has said or done to you on a date.
  • Javier Zamora’s book “Unaccompanied” (2017, Copper Canyon Press). It’s a collection of poems that mix autobiography with visceral documentation of El Salvador’s civil war, aftermath, and a little kid’s dangerous emigration to the US and what happens next. I met Zamora at a reading when I was in grad school for Writing. It was weird to say “great book” to someone when it’s a documentation of a traumatic part of their life. At one point in a group conversation he called Obama “#44” pointing to each US president’s hand in trauma.

Do you feel voting is important?

Yes. Absolutely. Voting is important.

It’s a right, and it’s a start. It’s physical buy-in to citizenship. I feel like once we vote we’ve encouraged ourselves to hold the government accountable. I mean we pay for politicians’ salaries, their health benefits, and their agendas whether we vote or not. And they make plenty of money in other places, for sure, but they work for us, so I’d like a say in who they are.

What are your hopes for this election?

I hope that Biden wins with an undeniable margin so that even Trump’s oligarchy can’t deny the result. I hope that red states turn blue and the House and the Senate are blue enough to keep women’s choices safe(r) and health and housing rights safe(r). I hope that everyone who can vote, and/or wants to vote, is able to do so. I hope it’s easy to do so. I hope that all of the votes are counted.


Lorna Alkana graduated from Otis College of Art and Design in May 2020 with an MFA in Graphic Design. She mixes language and line drawings into interactive installations, speculative events, and found poetry. Her background in Writing (USC, Creative Writing/Cultural Studies) and Education (Middle School English) influences her work.

For more information on Alkana:

Website: https://lornaalkana.com
Instaram: https://www.instagram.com/lornaphone/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lornaphone

Public Intellectuals is a magazine that analyzes politics, economics, race, labor,  socioeconomic class, popular culture, and literature. We publish daily.

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