Geonni Banner was born in an Army hospital in Seattle, Washington, in 1952 – a self-described Navy brat, delivered by a civilian doctor.
A large part of her childhood was spent alone, with animals and books for company. Fictional characters and the four-legged became her family and her peer group. Being diagnosed with agoraphobia at age 28 was not the tragedy that it could have been. Moving from place to place constantly as a youngster, she lived a life largely conducted indoors in a series of rooms that blur together into sameness. Rooms seem to be her natural habitat – dictated by circumstance and her nervous system – and she now feels comfortable in them.
Geonni has lived all over the 48 states (and Hawaii). She never finished high school, which doesn’t seem to have been an appreciable hindrance. Excessively curious, she reads omnivorously, gladly claiming the title “self-educated": "In this day and age, if you really want to know about something and have the Internet, you’re good to go. And if you spend any time thinking about what you’ve learned, you’re better off than the average garden-variety educated fool."
She started drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil – mostly horses. She’s still horse-crazy. She tried commercial art school in Texas 1972, but “that didn’t work for me,” she says with a smile. When her drawing instructor asked what she was doing at the school, she was crushed by his assessment of her (lack of) ability. Then he said, “You should be in a fine arts school.”
And that was her cue to “hie myself back to California, where I’ve been ever since.”
She’s spent her life making a living at everything from running the shipping department of a psychedelic poster factory, silk-screening bar mirrors with elaborate beer advertisements on them, and working the counter in record or video stores – to managing Pizza Huts, cooking omelets and sandwiches in bistros, and doing live-in elder-care. Plus years of animal-related jobs: vet’s assistant, dog groomer, and dog trainer.
Apart from Geonni’s art, writing and photography, her interests include anything to do with Tokugawa Japan – especially Samurai ‘stuff,’ horses, Japanese film, Anime, quilt making, and kitschy clocks.
In addition to having completed the fantasy/ juvenile fiction novel Boo & Zephyr – The Blind Dragon, Geonni is now working on the sequel, Boo & Zephyr – The Good Road. She’s also published sundry short pieces of humor and non-fiction in various periodicals.
In 2006, Geonni became infected with a particularly virulent strain of photography virus, which has mutated into a Photoshop fetish as well: “It keeps me busy.”
“I have this belief that everything you have ever seen is still in your head, stored in your memory-banks. I therefore try to look at everything – including things around me – that doesn't consciously register for most people. In my art, my photography and in my writing, I really try to portray my impressions in a way that will showcase the essential nature of the scenes and objects I observe. I feel that if we dismiss 20% to 50% or more of what we see as too mundane, ugly, or dull to bother with, then we are cultivating blindness – and missing a lot of interest and beauty.”
“There is so much to see in this world that is worth looking at. If you have ever walked around the block with a toddler, you know what I mean. They stop and look at EVERYTHING. They want to see, touch, smell – and sometimes taste – everything in their path. As we grow up we are trained not to see the world, but to narrow our focus to what is directly related to ‘getting ahead.’ What a loss!”
“I am really influenced by the music I listen to when I'm working – usually techno or classical. In a way I turn the image or story over to the music. The music will help me to make creative leaps, and show me the heart of the piece. I am constantly amazed at how quickly it happens.”
“Showing something natural, in its native state, is not art. Artifice piled on artifice, giving you the illusion of natural – that’s art. If you are going to draw people into your dream, then you must make it completely convincing. If the dream is not perfect, then it will feel unnatural. Only the most perfect dream approaches reality.”
“I most often take photos within 500 yards of my home or from a moving car. The main reason for this is that I’m severely agoraphobic. The secondary reason for this is that having been agoraphobic for so long, I have learned that it is really unnecessary to go any further than that. If you open yourself to what is around you, an unsuspected cosmos will appear – one that is beautiful in its complexity, and at the same time, profound in its simplicity.”