Today we’d like to introduce you to Renata Lucia.
Renata, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I grew up surrounded by makers. My paternal grandfather was an outsider artist. My mother was a published author and painter, and she and my scientist father had a side-hustle making miniatures, doll-house accessories, and dioramas. Almost all my female relatives quilted, embroidered, and sewed. However, income from their endeavors was sporadic, and being an artist was not considered an option. I still ended up on a non-traditional path though. I began playing viola in middle school and ultimately completed a performance degree at Rice University. Music paid for my education but was difficult and unsatisfying in other ways, so I only played professionally for a few years after graduation.
When I was 34, lost career-wise, and struggling with some difficult losses in my life, persistent knee pain was diagnosed as rare cancer. As I considered my uncertain future and past regrets, I came up with a small “I’ve never taken an art class.” In 2001, I enrolled in my first class, a 2D Design course taught by Francesca Fuchs at the Glassell School of Art. I continued part-time there with many fantastic teachers while working a day job and, at times, recovering from surgeries.
Making art let me step outside of my fear and gave me back what I had lost to cancer: peace of mind, self-esteem, joy, and community. In five crazy years, I went from reading “New American Paintings” in the hospital as an art world outsider to being featured in that publication. Almost a decade after I started, I became the first trained artist in my family when I graduated with a Painting specialization from Glassell.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My work is idea and process-driven, while my artist toolbox includes everything from encaustic painting to fiber to printmaking and more… which means my work doesn’t always look the same. That may not work well for marketing or recognition, but I didn’t get into art to follow the rules, and I think it’s more important that I create work that’s intriguing! I do have recurring elements though, such as the use of stable and chaotic patterns or textile references.
Thematically, I explore memory, craft, domesticity, and the impacts of our current socio-political environment. The series I’m showing the right now is called “News vs. Nature.” These are paintings on manipulated newspapers that examine the widening social divides unfolding in the current news cycle. In these, I’m asking, “Is the news fake or more likely, a last bastion of truth? Is nature sublime, or does it represent the most disturbing aspects of human nature?” I aim to do work that is simultaneously mysterious and revealing, with a non-didactic message of struggle capturing our zeitgeist and promoting reflection.
Do you have any advice for other artists?
I can share advice from others that resonate with me! I like artist Dawoud Bey’s “Advice to a Young Artist,” especially, “It is impossible to do good work, show it to a lot of people, and nothing happens.” I like Paul Klein (of Klein Artist Works) ideas on vulnerability, authenticity, and that “baby steps are a battering ram.” I appreciate the value of an MFA, but since I can’t go that route, I love critic Roberta Smith’s declaration that “…artists don’t need licenses or certificates or permission to do their work.” I find all of critic Jerry Saltz’ aphorisms empowering, including “Be a freedom machine.” I love artist Sharon Louden’s ideas on an “artist-citizen” being visible and generous while creating opportunities for others, and this has influenced my approach to social media.
Lastly, I don’t want to overlook the impact of Houston artists, who are vital, helpful, and empowering. For example, after a difficult start to my News vs. Nature series, I’ll never forget artist Kay Sarver telling me, “I think you have something really special here.” That timely encouragement was the catalyst for my getting the work out of my studio, into New American Paintings a second time, and into venues around Texas. It’s always worthwhile to seek out other artists, so I appreciate Voyage Houston for highlighting the inspiring members of our community!
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My solo exhibition “News vs. Nature (Gulf)” will open at the Galveston Arts Center on November 24th, 2018, as part of the Galveston Art Walk the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I’m also coordinating with Webb Gallery in Waxahachie, TX to show the visionary works of my grandfather, Robert Ray Vaughn, in a group show in early 2019!
I have a website, and I’m active on Instagram and Facebook. I work out of my home studio in Sharpstown, and I’m always up for studio visits! People can also support me through my Patreon account, where I share details about my work, successes, failures, inspirations, research, experiments, etc., and offer rewards based on a membership subscription that starts at $1 a month.
- Website: http://www.renatalucia.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/renluart/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/renata.lucia.79
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/RenataLucia
- Other: https://www.patreon.com/renatalucia