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Meet Renee Steward

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

Hi Renee, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I have always been a creative person. Growing up, I constantly (and still do) have tons of ideas all the time. My home didn’t really support that, though, so I never explored my creative side.

As a grown-up, I worked a corporate job and put all of my time and energy into my work. My creative side would always poke through though. Anytime I would get a little time, I would find some kind of crafty thing to get my hands in. I was managing retail stores at my corporate job and had worked my way up the ladder, but I was feeling so lost and unfulfilled. Nothing in my life felt like it was going right.

I started working out and eating better and leaving work on time for the first time ever and began to realize how much I didn’t like what I was doing with my life. I ended up quitting my job shortly after that realization. I had dabbled here and there with painting (learning from youtube and books I would buy at the art store and just playing around with things I was inspired by), but all of a sudden I couldn’t use work to run from my emotions anymore and desperately needed an outlet. And art was there for me.

I wasn’t working and woke up every day and worked out and made art. I was taking care of myself on every level, something I had never done. I made 5 paintings a day for months and just played with everything I possibly could. I would go to the art store and walk around and see what called out to me. I would talk to the people that worked there and ask them what things did (I still do this). Art became a daily practice for me. It gave me a lot of freedom to not be perfect, to escape my brain and understand how I was thinking and feeling about things, and to chill out and focus on something that just made me feel good.

Ever since, I have been making art every day. Whether I doodle in my sketchbook, work on an oil painting, or develop a large scale experience, I can’t stop creating. It’s who I am.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. Creating art, to me, is very vulnerable. When you’re whole heart is in it, all of your feelings and emotions and experiences, it can create a lot of insecurity. Most of it is getting over my self-talk and reframing my mind and going back to why I started in the first place. It has to be honest for me. That might be the hardest part. Being ok with being honest about who and what I am in the moment and being ok if nobody in the world understands.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m known for my faces, the eyes specifically. I’ve always been observant and feeling. That’s the primary sense I rely on in life. When I started making art, I was drawn to faces and feeling the expressions. And so I create them every way possible, every medium possible.

I am most proud of a piece I created in 2020. I had worked for a year creating a piece called “503: Error Unknown.” I handmade 503 masks and layered them on top of each other to create a 3D piece that illustrated the feeling of searching for who you are and coming up blank. I created the piece in black and white and displayed it on an 8’x8′ panel in a gallery. It created an experience and feeling that I can’t describe and I’ve been working towards creating more large scale, immersive work since.

I currently am doing large scale murals and creating my next mask project TBD.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
St. Louis is my home. I was born and raised here. I love the architecture. I love wandering around and discovering new places. I love how homey it feels. I love how beautiful it is in the spring. I love how hot it is in the summer. I love how friendly it is. I love how small business-oriented it is.

Really, the only thing I think that would make it better would be if things were more connected. There are little pockets of cool things everywhere like the Loop or Cherokee Street or Washington Ave or CWE, but things just feel disjointed. But art brings everyone together and I have faith it will get there.

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