Renu O'Connell
 
 

Renu O’Connell

About Renu O’Connell

As a child, my first experience of artistic expression came from sitting on a
park bench alongside Mackinac artist, Stanley Bieleckey. I was amazed at
how easily Stan could bring his canvas to life using the local color and
capturing the movement of the bustling ferry docks and horse-drawn
carriages, for which the island was known. The inspiration of those
precious summer months on Mackinac propelled me on my lifelong artistic
journey.

I have studied at Massachusetts College of Art and participated in intensive
workshops in the Northeast and Southwest. Since the mid 70‘s, my
meditation practice and Eastern studies have influenced and sustained my
life, as well as introduced me to other ancient cultures. I have also drawn
inspiration from artists such as May Stevens, Paul Klee, Ben Shawn, John
Marin, and Rabindranath Tagore.

For 28 years, I sold my monotypes, oils, and acrylics at my craft gallery in
the Boston area. In 2005, I met Kate Ransohoff, founder of the Turtle
Studios in Watertown, MA. Kate became my coach and mentor, and I
continued to study with her until 2015. Turtle Studios is an artist-run
educational and cultural arts community inspired by four fundamental
principals that we share: artmaking matters, the person matters, meaning
matters, and deep values matter. To this extent my paintings in tempera
and acrylics depict stories and insights relevant to us and the natural world
we live in. Since 2009, I have held workshops at Turtle Studios. Currently I
have a private studio in West Concord above the train tracks.

Several opportunities arose since then that have continued to shape and
fulfill the guiding principles mentioned already. In 2011 I received consent
from the founding chief and commissioner of the Women’s Water
Commission, Josephine Mandamin, elder of the Anishinabe tribe, to do
paintings about their blessings for the Great Lakes water which involved
walking the Lakes perimeter of 11,525 miles taking 7 years to accomplish.
After this experience I went on to paint some murals both in Cambridge,
Massachusetts; Nashville,Tn.; and Rockland, Maine. This opened my heart
and awareness to the great deal of suffering that so many endure in this
country on a daily basis and how a neighborhood mural could lift the spirits
and inspire confidence.

With great fortune I found the Art Connection. It was a dream that I have
always had to use my art in service of a diverse widespread population. My
experience working with the Connection’s social agencies is that the staff
and clients identify very strongly with the images of people, vessels, and
bridges that are in contact with the water. These are symbols in our lives
for renewal, journey, and hope.

In the painting “Comings and Goings’ it meant so much to me that people
of many colors and experiences could see themselves arriving in this
country welcomed and respected.

Currently I am painting in Maine’s ARRT (Artists Rapid Response team)
and the Musketequid Banner Project in Concord. These are mural type
banners that promote the work of progressive non-profits. I am also
coaching weekly at Turtle studios in Newton MA.

I draw much of my inspiration from meditations on the waters of my
ancestral summer place of Mackinac Island Michigan in the Great Lakes
and our summer cottage in mid-coast Maine.


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