Shilling Solo Exhibit

Interview with René Lorraine on the occasion of her solo exhibition Left Frontal Lobe Slowing at KALEID during the month of March 2013.  Interview conducted by Donny Foley.

KALEID:
When did you discover your passion for art? Was there a moment in time when it just hit you or were you taken from the womb with a brush in your hand?

René:
I remember being fascinated with blank paper and freshly sharpened pencils when I was a child. The smell of pencil shavings and the possibilities the blank pages held a far better and way more exciting future than any toy under my bed. I can pin point the moment when I realized Art School was an option, and that I didn’t have to study something I viewed as boring or common. But I always knew it was my passion. I just didn’t realize I too could be an “artist” until I saw a commercial for an art school on television.

KALEID:
I understand you work as an Art Curriculum Coordinator, do you find this position influences your art in any way?

René:
Not one bit. I design arts and crafts projects for underprivileged children. It is an incredibly rewarding way to spend 40 hours a week yet in no way an influence to my artwork. My day job influences me in other ways though, and helps me be a better person. I have this rare opportunity to be a positive role model for kids who don’t believe they will make it in this harsh world.

Acceptance
Acceptance
, watercolor on paper, 19″ x 13″

KALEID:
Most of the subjects in your pieces either have a blank spot where a facial feature would be or there’s a blotch of paint on them or in the background. Can you give our viewers insight as to why?

René:
March of 2006 I noticed a bright spot in my left eye that wouldn’t go away. I’ve gone to several different doctors but only one had a slight clue as to what it was. Even then, there is nothing she can do to fix it. As of today, I have at least five holes in my vision in each eye. I get a new one now and then. There is no treatment, no cure. Then in June of 2011, I came home from a month of backpacking in Europe and started getting Ocular Migraines for the first time in over 15 years. I had them as a child after being weened off medication for seizures. These are the type of migraines where your arm goes numb, you get slurred speech, you can’t see much other than flashing blotches of color, and basically feel like you’ve been shot in the head. I had 18 in three months. I was a mental and emotional wreck. I finally took the advice of a friend and went to see a doctor that would actually look INSIDE the old noggin. Unfortunately, they found a couple slightly scary things. A cyst hanging out with my brain, and the left side of my frontal lobe working slower than the right side. So with all of this combined, I felt it was time to make art about it. I’ve always felt that if you talk about something scary, it becomes less scary. And I also wanted to show people what I see everyday. It’s hard to express with words. People don’t really take you seriously when you say “I can’t see your eye when I look at your mouth.” It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you draw a face and erase the eye. Then they get it.

Pain
Pain, watercolor on paper, 19″ x 12″

KALEID:
Do the spots make it very difficult to work on your art?

René:
Not yet. Right now they are more distracting than debilitating.

KALEID:
Is there a particular person who inspires you?

René:
I gain my inspiration from many sources but primarily those who are overcoming odds.

KALEID:
If you could study anywhere in the world for one year and money wasn’t an object where would u study and why?

RENE: I think we all know the obvious answer here is Italy. History, art, wine, and delicious food. Why would you go anywhere else?!

KALEID:
What is your favorite part when creating a new piece?

René:
I love watching the face turn from just lines into an actual portrait. I’m actually surprised every time it happens. Someday I’ll do a time lapsed video and let everyone else see it happen too.

Shilling_portrait
René in her studio

KALEID:
Is there a message or idea you’d like someone to walk away with after viewing your works?

René:
I guess I’d like people to gain an understanding for unseen illnesses. Just because you don’t look like you have a health issue doesn’t mean you don’t. We often judge people without considering that they may have some trauma going on. Also, by showing what I see on a daily basis and sharing the struggles I have, I hope to inspire others to do the same. Like I said before, talking about it makes it less scary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *