АRT-PERSON OF THE MONTH
René Romero Schuler
René Romero Schuler is an American painter. She has taught painting at the Illinois Institute of Art and Chicago City Colleges, lectured at Northwestern University and was board member of the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) in Chicago
- How did you come up with the idea of becoming an artist? Were you born in an artistic family or paving the way to the art sphere yourself?
- I’ve considered myself an artist since childhood. I never wavered from this. My family was not particularly artistic, but everyone always referred to me as an artist, which felt good to me.
- What is your art about?
- It’s about finding the strength and beauty within ourselves. I had a childhood full of domestic violence, then homelessness and real violence as a teen, and a profound lack of self worth as a young adult. I barely survived.
I work through all my old stories through each piece. I find my strength. I unravel the harsh knots of each story. I paint the beautiful, spiritual being that resides within me.
- Which artists (which art epoch) had the greatest impact on your creativity and worldview?
- In the mid eighties I was drawn to artists like Basquiat, Stella, deKooning, Johns, Richter. This period had the greatest impact on me. And absolutely impacted my worldview, which in hindsight, was truly in its infancy at that delicate time of my life.
- Sculpture occupies an important place in your creativity. You have a lot of work in bronze and wire. What material is more difficult for you to work with and what material do you prefer, which material best expresses your idea?
- I think my immediate answer is that my affection for paint comes first and foremost, but what I love about being an artist is that whatever rules may exist in terms of staying faithful to only one medium, simply do not impact my personal practice. Being an artist means staying true to all craft and all expressions of attaining a vision. I love working with media that challenges me and I love working with my hands and I love finding ways to say what I want to say. I am a writer, a painter, an illustrator, a sculptor, a dancer, a thinker, a dreamer. I does not come without the other.
- How do social and political issues affect your work? How do they affect the image portrayed?
- In that all social and political climates impact me on any given day, they will absolutely impact my present day practice. I am seldom compelled to portray something political or overtly provocative, however, the stories and issues that touch something deep within me have absolutely been known to make their way into my work. Things that I have a personal history with, like domestic abuse, violence, homelessness… these things hit me hard.
- How does it feel to be one of the most important artists of the Midwest USA? Are you happy for such fame?
- Having any amount of notoriety in a field where less than 1% can earn a living wage is absolutely empowering and validating. I am proud of all that I have achieved in my career, but I take not one single thing for granted. I am very dedicated to my craft, and I work hard for everything that I have.
- Let's remember your youth. Could you imagine that you will achieve such a staggering success? Did you feel that you are capable of great things?
- There are two sides to how I felt in my youth. as a victim of abuse and violence, I was left with no self-worth, and thoughts of suicide. By the time I was 8 I honestly decided that the world would be better off without me. Hopelessness reigned supreme inside me. The problem was that I was also a natural born fighter. I could not kill myself. As low as I ever got, I could only get so far as to wish with all my heart that I would die. I would put myself in terrible circumstances and just hope the next step would kill me. Thankfully, that never worked. And in the meantime, I always knew that I was an artist, and my vision of the life I saw for myself was crystal clear. I didn’t’t know the exact steps to get there, but I knew where I wanted to be. I knew what inspired me. I think that it is this clarity that somehow kept me alive through some of the most painful things a person could endure.
- Do you remember who first acquired your painting / sculpture?
- I was homeless in high school, and a fellow student named Frank Wooden bought a painting from me for $150. That is something I will remember forever.
- The spiritual should prevail over the material (in the context of art)?
- Everything I do is propelled by my spirituality. I cannot have one without the other. Every material I work with is molded by my spiritual connection to my message.
- When did you first come to success?
- The moment I realized that I could sustain myself on my own terms. I am 100% in charge of my destiny. I drive all my decisions. This realization came to me around 1990, when I incorporated my decorative painting business.
- How long have you been working on one job? Do you need special training (meditation, for example)?
- The only job I’ve ever had is as an artist, which I have been doing, professionally, since 1986. I’ve had an enormous amount of training, though none academic, through the thousand or so commissions I’ve done over all these years. Meditation is, in fact, a daily practice for me, but I can only say -to each, his own.
- Who are the most famous owners of your work?
- There are some that are famous enough that I am not at liberty to disclose per contractual agreement, but a few that I can say: Ellen Degeneres (comedian, talk show host), Pamella Roland (fashion designer), Samantha Win Jo (actress/stuntwoman Wonder Woman), Michael Nouri (actor, Yellowstone, Flashdance, The Proposal, and many more), many many others...
- You has taught at the Illinois Art Institute and the College of Chicago. What do you think is important to master a young or novice painter / sculptor?
I believe that some of the most important lessons an artist can learn will not come from academics. Lesson number one: always communicate in the POSITIVE. No one ever wants to hear negative. Communicating in the positive will transform your life. Period. Lesson number two: stay true to your personal mission. Do what you are absolutely passionate about and let no one sway you. Education or not, when you are doing something that you feel, deep in your heart, there is no one or nothing that can stand in your way. Lesson number three: DO THE WORK. Nothing comes without hard work, dedication, and putting in the hours.
- Basically you write fragile female silhouettes. What is a female image in art for you and what does it mean for you personally in your work?
- The female image is all about the innate feminine nature that exists within all of us. It is Mother, Sister, Daughter, Self...Nurturer, Powerhouse, Survivor. I draw all my strength from these figures.
- Tell us about your technique. What tools do you like to use the most?
- I use only oil paints and palette knives. It’s a sculptural technique that I have been doing for the last fifteen years or so. I like it because the texture contains a lot of symbolic value for me. It’s expressive. Strong. Important. Raw.
- Painting or graphics? Why?
- Painting. It’s moldable and my hand makes every mark so deliberately.
Uma, 10.5x3in (26.7x7.6cm),
dark bronze with golden highlights, 2019
Yesterday Today Tomorrow,
oil on canvas, 2019
Bridget, 60x60in (152x152cm), oil on canvas, 2019
- Do you plan to come with a project to Russia?
- That would be an absolute dream. I’ve never been to Russia, but I feel strongly that my work would restate with many, and really find a voice and a connection there.
- What awaits art in the future, in your opinion?
- This is not something I am particularly versed in. I have never been a follower of trends, nor do I consider myself a trendsetter. I follow my own vision and my own truth and will always let that be my guiding principle.