Featured Artist: René Shoemaker
I am thrilled to be writing about René Shoemaker and her beautiful, luminescent silk art. I have admired her work ever since I moved to Athens and had the opportunity to begin working at Athens Art & Frame back in 2015. I had never seen silk paintings like René’s before. Her lines and colors have always spoken to me, so I want to share more about her artistic journey and process.
Though born in New York City, René began traveling up and down the east coast when she was 17. After 10 years of exploration, she found where she fit: Athens, Ga. She had a long time love of making art and made her first fiber piece at age 7 (an appliqued horse made of scraps from her mother’s sewing basket scraps). She studied at UGA with the intention of learning art quilting - which UGA did not offer. So instead, René learned many techniques including weaving, printing and surface design. After graduating with her BFA, René took a class that changed her art for good: silk painting.
“Right away, I knew it was the medium that spoke to my soul.” - René
Henri Matisse is a primary influence for René, who says “His brevity of lines and use of color has taught me much more than I ever learned in college.” Everyday beauty is the subject of much of Rene’s work, which she makes to “help others see what is in their everyday environment with new eyes.”
Each piece of silk begins clean and white. The design is drawn on using a resist medium that separates each color - keeping it in its space. The silk is stretched tight for the painting process. René loves mixing the colors and watching them spread on the silk, becoming luminous. After a 24 hour period, the dye is set, the silk is washed and the piece is left to dry flat.
Over time, René’s work has become bolder, with stronger lines.
“I still love my old work; each artwork has a piece of my heart in it…[now] I have a confidence when I create my art that was not there before.”
Looking forward, René is exploring abstracts in a series called “Horizons”. These works are reminiscent of the sky, ocean or earth with many colors.
She also found inspiration after her recent artist residency at Serenbe, where she began exploring abstract shape and “the energy between spaces, including new color combinations and spatial development.”
Still, René expects that her subjects will always return to her first love: vernacular architecture.
René has exhibited in museums such as The Columbus Museum, Lauren Rogers Museum and the Pompidou in Paris.
She also teaches silk painting classes at KA Artist shop here in Athens - the whole process is broken down for you to allow you to jump right in and learn the beautiful art of painting on silk. Speaking from experience, it is a truly wonderful class and I cannot wait to do more silk painting myself in the future.
To see more of René’s work:
Facebook: Rene Shoemaker Art
You can also purchase prints of Rene’s work directly through our website! https://athensartandframe.com/creative/rene-shoemaker