To Top

Conversations with Renee McGinnis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Renee McGinnis.

Hi Renee, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I grew up on a farm 80 miles southwest of Chicago. I spent a lot of time with books, the World Book Encyclopedias and National Geographic. We didn’t have a television in the home for several years and today am very grateful to my parents for making such a decision. The time spent reading these helped me become very aware of the world beyond the farm. I attended college at Illinois Wesleyan University, graduating with a BFA.

I continued painting after school and used the time I had after work to develop as an artist. I enrolled at The University of Chicago and completed a semester of graduate work in sociology and anthropology. I also worked as a graphic designer and illustrator and spent years in broadcasting in Chicago doing news graphics for WMAQ, WBBM and WGN. I did illustrations for Encyclopedia Brittanica, notably the Condensed version of Stephen W. Hawking’s “A Brief History in Time”. The amount of editorial and narrative work I did to make my living began to influence the direction of my work. I also believed art could be a catalyst or guide for the common good. I joined an art co-op in 1993. ARC Gallery in Chicago provided me with the confidence and will to begin exhibiting my work. Eventually, I developed the career I have today. I was represented by Aron Packer for several years and am now represented by ZG Gallery here in Chicago.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Rejection is something one has to adjust to in order to keep completing new work. My technical skill level made it very easy for me to diverge from a consistent painting style and my curiosity about what I was capable of accomplishing on canvas made me a risk to most commercial galleries. I explored and made journeys through many bodies of work and of course, had to accept the rejection I expected. Most galleries want consistency. Working and supporting one’s self is a struggle. Being very committed to making art is essential. The work ethic needed to be self-supporting can be exhausting, draining and isolating.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m known for painting derelict or frozen superstructures surrounded by gardens of a misdirected beauty, suggesting man’s infallible desire to control nature. The once luxurious ocean liners, the highly sexualized iron ore uploaders and Battersea power stations are staged in deceptively beautiful gardens or stricken on violent seas. The purity of the clouds and botanicals juxtaposed with the lonely decay of the steel structures create a potent marriage of emotions in the viewer. One has to make the decision whether to attend to the monument of human labor or to the serene beauty enveloping it, just as we all must choose between material consumption and the conservation of the natural systems that sustain us all.

I am mostly proud of my many awards. I’m proud of the curatorial projects, most notably “The Chicago Solution Show” juried by Ed Paschke. I’m proud of my children. What sets me apart is that I paint in a realist manner but arrive at a clearly contemporary and provocative place with my work. I see the value in socially responsible art-making and continue to record our place, time and tendencies in our human history.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Consistency and focus are the two most important factors for my success now. I might add that hustle and blustery self-promotion are probably more essential in this age but I’m not willing to disgrace myself yet, I say with tongue in cheek. I must also listen to my soul and keep up the hard work and sacrifice.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

James Prinz Tom Van Eynde

Suggest a Story: VoyageSTL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

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

More in Uncategorized