Art Speaks For You: Artist Renee Canetta
Crossing a medical career with art has never been an issue for local artist Renee Canetta. In fact, Canetta embraces the human body, especially being inspired by the female body, taking her experiences from being a nurse and implementing it into her art. Sculpting is a big medium for her — she recently finished a commission “My Yin, My Yang, My Choice,” consisting of polymer clay on wood plaque. Her sculptures involve painstakingly precise placement and usually incorporates bright colors. The intricate layers of her sculptures leaves viewers staring for hours trying to find every last detail. See more of Canetta’s work and follow her on social media:
1. What mediums do you primarily work with? What mediums would you like to experiment more with?
It's hard for me to answer this because I am one of those people who finds it hard to stick to one thing. I absolutely love learning how to use new materials and most of the time it just depends on my mood when it comes to deciding which medium to use. I get into these cycles defined by months of working with only oil paint, then magically weeks of ink work will infect my life.
Recently, however, that obsession has turned to sculpture. Each time I am so amazed at this tunnel vision. It can be a very productive thing for me to hyper focus on one medium.
As far as what I would like to experiment with? I am currently enjoying sculpture with polymer clay. I am definitely in one of those phases where sculpture has been my main focus. I like to experiment with everything!
2. Your art uses bright and vivid colors. Is there a reason behind this?
I never really noticed that my artwork was particularly bright and vivid; I just kind of pick whatever color feels right. I do love color very much. It makes me feel something satisfying when I can find a way to smack blue next to hot pink and it just feels right! I do tend to think that color sort of reflects positivity in my mind. I like to play the positive with the negative and color makes that easy.
3. On your Facebook page, it says you focus a lot on the human body. What is it about the human body that inspires you to incorporate it in your art? Does feminism inspire your works in any way?
I am inspired every day by the human condition. I am amazed at the body's ability to safeguard itself from harm, to heal itself, to grow. I remember sitting in anatomy classes in college for my pre-nursing credits and realizing that although we try as hard as we can to fight disease, or keep ourselves healthy, at the end of the day, the body will respond the way it wants. Giving in to that realization and letting go of control is terrifying. That sort of unease and feeling of frailty that is left behind is what is so motivating.
Feminism absolutely inspires my work. I almost feel a responsibility as a woman to give a message of feminism to the world. The confidence I feel as a woman was hard fought over years of feeling like shit, being talked over, being told my opinion doesn't matter, being told how to feel and act. I can use my art to say exactly what I want to, and it's hard for anyone to talk over a painting. I want my art to be unapologetically female, bold and strong, something I still struggle with to this day. I want my art to do my talking for me.
4. You're open for commissions, correct? What challenges do you face when selling and/or just creating your art? What is your favorite part about creating and selling?
Yes, I am open for commissions! I definitely face challenges when selling my art. I know that not everyone would want a painting with the word “slut” written in black against a white background next to a nude woman. But I don't make art to sell it. My objective has never been to make money from my art. I make art for myself. The fact that anyone at all would want a piece of my artwork flat out blows my mind. It is equal parts wonderful and also sad. I get pretty attached to the art I make, and I feel a little heartbreak when I give a piece to a buyer. Typically every dollar I earn, I put right back in to getting supplies, this way my hobby is self-sustaining.
My favorite part about creating art would definitely be the feeling of release I get when a piece is done. As I said before, I get very attached. A lot of the art I do is tied to something inside me. Whether it be an expression of an event in my life or my reactions to things that have happened to people I love or myself; putting those expressions down on paper, or on canvas, or marked in clay, is a way for me to kind of deal with it, or a way for me to pack it up nicely, throw some neon colors on it and make a rainbow out of a pile of crap. Sometimes, the art I make is simply fun and has no meaning at all.
5. What would you like to see more of in the art community around here? What do you like about the art community?
I would definitely love to see more appreciation for artists. I know there are many artists who are taken advantage of and asked to give their art for free. To me, that owes to a fundamental misunderstanding of the way an artist operates. The courage to create something, then to show it to the world is something that can shake a person because to be that vulnerable and open to criticism can be very hard. I would also love to see other artists lift each other up. Competition can be unnecessary in my eyes because I feel like there is room for everyone.
What I love most about the art community is the unwillingness of artists to give up. I love that creating is almost a compulsion for many artists. As a fan of art, I couldn't be happier.
6. Can you explain a little bit about the piece featured in issue 2 of Warm Soda "In the Eye of Flora." What was the process for it? How long did it take? What was the inspiration behind it?
“In the Eye of Flora” is definitely one of my favorite pieces I have ever done, mainly because it translates pretty closely from the dream I had. I was in a dark room, staring at a wall of flowers, and as I walked closer to the wall, I realized that the center of each flower had a bright eyeball staring back at me. When I reached up to touch the eyeball, all of the flowers began to cry. I woke up and immediately wrote down what I remembered. It eventually morphed into “In the Eye of Flora.” It gives me the same creepy and foreboding feeling I felt in the dream. Even though it isn't exactly what I remembered, it still is a piece of it. I felt this feeling of being judged in the dream. I was being watched unblinkingly by these flowers, but when I touched the flowers and they cried, I felt this sadness because the eyes expressed so much pain. I'm not sure I harnessed that pain.
I think it took me a total of 16 hours from start to very last epoxy layer, and man, did I feel those 16 hours, with each little pearl placement.
7. Does your medical career crossover into your art? How so?
I absolutely think my medical career crosses over into my art. As a nurse, I take a front row seat to some very serious human suffering. I see people at their most vulnerable, and I have to be able to process those emotions. Sometimes the only way I can do that is by drawing, painting or sculpting. It becomes a sort of escape, a way for me to remember that I am only human myself and despite my best efforts, I can only do so much. As I said before, the human body will do whatever it wants to do. In my career, I have been so lucky to meet some very strong and awe-inspiring people — from patients who suffer through some of the worst diseases, but still manage to smile, to my incredible colleagues, who fight tooth and nail to help those people. Being a nurse is part of who I am, as much as being an artist is.