Paula Rendino Biography
The impetus for all artists over the ages has varied. Thankfully, the result through differences in our artistic endeavors is our art ultimately connects people, transcends borders, and makes the world a more engaging and beautiful place.
Reflecting on my career as an artist, I am most proud of three of the “veins” of my art career. The first, is my love of materials, and in the deeper sense, “materia” – the essence of all things. The second, is my approach to the world by creating art as a means to connect to “spirit” such as my labyrinth installation and ritual. The third has been exploring and celebrating the sensuality of being a woman in her many stages of life: mother, healer and “diviner”- maker of rituals and source of prayers.
For the first art impetus or “vein”, “materia” can describe the physical material, such as marble, clay, oil paint or wax, or the synergistic “magic” that happens when a camera captures light, form, textures and “mood” on film.
As a child, little did I know that my love of the smell of a wax crayon and of a beeswax candle, would parlay into a healthy obsession with wax. In college, studying in Florence, Italy and later in New York City, I created wax paintings and continued with wax as medium. In this period from the late 1980s to 1990s, I found the artistic need and desire to have elements of the work phosphoresce, when most other elements were in darkness, leaving the viewer to ponder the silence the absence of light can bring.
I ran into “technical problems” as the heavy phosphorescent pigment could not be suspended in wax; this I was told by professionals in the field and also what I discovered in my studio. From my bull-headedness, and despite my poor knowledge of chemistry, and with some “out-of-the-box” thinking, I ended up co-inventing and receiving three patents for crayon marking materials, one that was the first phosphorescent (glow-in-the-dark) crayon.
My series of Environments of Phosphorescent Paintings and Sculptures, Light and Sound were typically exhibited in an environment of original music and changing light-most unique and “high tech” when created. The lights for the installations and performances were “slaved” to the music and would shut off at times, leaving the viewer in a room of utter darkness, with the only light illuminating from the phosphorescent crystal pigment of the painting and sculptures.
During this period, I discovered that taking photos of the installations were another element of the works of art, installations, and performances. This prompted me to become more involved in photography as an art form. Today, it is intriguing to me that the “otherworldly” feeling to the photos can only be achieved with ultraviolet blue-black lights and black lights- today’s photoshop cannot duplicate or ‘fake” these images.
From this place in my artist path, my photography became the “art form.” I became interested in capturing ritual and movement “performed” by myself utilizing timers on my camera. Whether photographing my entire body, as in my Pregnancy Series, or Breastfeeding Series, or parts of my body, such as my hands and feet, my impetus was melded into the craft of photography.
Having grown up watching film noir and being on numerous movie sets, including working on “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” filmed on location in France, I became intrigued with capturing “critical” and “poignant” moment in time. I also chose to “sculpt” with light that would create a dramatic effect, and utilized ARRI lighting commonly used for film making. I found with the ARRI lighting, I could create subtle denseness of the shadows which created more psychological drama. As the “model” was me, I used a timer on my camera for each frame.
While pregnant with my first born (1997), I boldly created a black and white photography Pregnancy Series (Tab H) and explored pregnancy juxtaposed to fairy tales and other writings. As an example, Rapunzel let down her hair from the tower to her lover after all. Later in the Breastfeeding Series, I again are the “model”. This time, I explored the power women have being able to nourish another and the power behind the breast full of milk, as shown in ancient art and Early Christian Art but considered “taboo” in the Puritanical American culture then, and even today.
From this series, I began my photography Mudra Series (2001-present) continuing using my hands as the subject, black and white film and ARRI lights. The hand as art impetus and subject matter continues in one form or another to this day. The first of the Mudra Series explored kitchen tools held as tools of a woman’s self-defense. The kitchen beaters and other tools took on a menacing feel. This touched upon the beauty of a woman’s hands and the vulnerability many experience in her home. Today, we understand the plight of women around the world finding themselves exposed to violence at the hands of their husbands and lovers, with their only self-protection the kitchen tool hastily grabbed. In my photos, the tools, whether menacing or not, held symbolic meaning, such as sieve or candle snuff representing the passing of time.
Hands have historically been an important element of yogic practice, with a multitude of gestures held for mental and physical well-being. Historically, other cultures in dance had a language of hands. Trained as a ballet dancer until college, the beauty expressed through the hands was assimilated by me at an early age. Creating the Mudra Series, at times, I made “mudras” with my hands, other times, gestures similar to the Manipuri Dance in India. At other times, I explored the sensual flesh aspect of my hands as landscapes.
As a mid-career artist, I desired to enrich my art practice by diving deeper into the meaning of archetypes and symbols. The thread of “materia” of symbols and archetypes had always intrigued me and has been ever present in my work. At this point in time, I enrolled into a scholarly theology seminary where I was able to utilize etymology, Ancient Near East Texts and primary sources, such as the Hebrew Bible, Pliny the Elder’s work, and Egyptian papyrus to enrich my art making practice.
From an art history prospective, following the threads of iconography, motifs and symbols through the ancient world continues to be a powerful influencer in my art practice. During this period, I continued to use myself as the model, and created digital color photographic series based on rituals used since ancient times. The Anointing Series and the Pedalavium (Washing of Feet) Series are two threads of this exploration. “Hands'' and “Feet” became interchangeable as subject matter and symbolism. My subject of research became the plants in primary sources, such as the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East Texts. Behind the plants in these written works were the women purifying water and healing, anointing, washing of feet, baking bread on their exoduses and their journeys.
My work grew into studying herbalism, tincture making and essential oil blending which deepened my exploration in the lives of ancient women healers. During my photo shoots, I had the feeling that their hands became “my hands” and vice versa. The “ritual” commenced from setting up the lights, “props” and dressing in costume. Dressing in period clothing emphasized the sense of “time shifting” for me as I drew on my knowledge as healer, diviner, medicine maker, and became more than a “character”—I became the vessel of those women that came before me, powerful, life giving and often forgotten or marginalized in history books.
“Pain” is the giver of artistic impetus, and I recalled studying marriage and divorce in Ancient times. The Talmud, Ancient Roman writing, all described divorce, which at the time, I thought would “never happen to me”.
But it did. And like many women before me and will come after me, my life changed and I raised my children alone. The Wings Series and Ties That Bind Series come from this period. Pain became the impetus of my art. During sleepless nights I started writing a short story, unaware that a few years later I would have written a trilogy book series. As an artist, I can do nothing other than look for the “materia” in life and the natural world around me and continue to create.
2014 - 2015
2012 - 2013
1982 - 1986
The Boston School of Herbal Studies, Arlington, Massachusetts
Advanced Training Program
Andover Newton Theological School, Newton, Massachusetts,
Master of Arts Theological Studies
University of Rochester, New York, B.A. in Studio Arts and Economics.
Awards, Commissions, Grants, and Patents
Arts-Sciences-Lettres, Silver Lifetime Achievement Award for USA Photography 2020, Paris France
Andover Newton Theological Seminary, Newton, Massachusetts, “think outside the pulpit” commissioned photography for print and ad campaign.
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, photography for “mingus! A jazz happening at the rose” invitation and print.
Fitchburg Cultural Council Grant for Mudras: Photography Lecture, awarded through the Central Massachusetts Chapter WCA.
U.S. Patent Number 5,529,615 for marking material.
U.S. Patent Number 5,453,120 for erasable crayon.
U.S. Patent Number 5,116,533 for first non-toxic phosphorescent crayon.
Worcester Art Museum Education Grant.
Massachusetts Council Arts Lottery Grants awarded through the Medford Arts Council 1989 and 1990.
First Night Inc., commission awarded for outdoor installation and performance at the Boston Common
Massachusetts Council Arts Lottery Grant awarded through the Cambridge Arts Council.
Massachusetts Council Arts Lottery Grant awarded through the Watertown Arts Lottery Council.
Massachusetts Council Arts Lottery Grants awarded through the Arlington Arts Council 1988-90.
First Night Inc., commission awarded for "Time of the World", window installation.
Wilson Chapel Gallery, Andover Newton Theological Seminary Newton, Massachusetts, “When Bitter Makes Sweet”, Photo and Video Installation
Wilson Chapel Media, Andover Newton Theological Seminary, Newton, Massachusetts, “All Saints Day: An Art Experience” Performance, and Interactive Piece.
WCA National Convention, Boston, MA. Performance of “On Mine Hands, On Thine Hands”.
The Gallery at Black and White, Boston MA, "Mudras: Language of the Hands".
Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, A Labyrinth Ritual of Light and Sound".
The Omega Institute, Rhinebeck NY, "A Labyrinth Ritual of Light and Sound".
Danz Ahora, New York, NY. Lighting and Costume Design.
TZ ART & CO., New York, NY. "The AIDS Bathroom Installation".
THE Gallery Three Zero,(RADIX), New York, NY. "The AIDS Bathroom Installation".
Boston Ballet Building, Boston, MA. "The AIDS Bathroom Installation", presented by DIFFA and the NAMES Fund.
Owen-Patrick Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. "Rainforest/Crossroads" and "The Holocaust of Nature".
Haenah-Kent Gallery, New York, NY. "The Great Flood: An Environment of Illuminating Archetypical Wax Paintings and Sculpture, Changing Light and Sound".
Parkman Bandstand, Boston Common. "The Eleventh Hour of Virtue and Vice", a performance/installation commissioned by First Night Inc..
Atwood Gallery, Worcester MA. "The Great Flood: An Environment of Illuminating Wax Painting and Sculpture, Changing Light and Sound".
Cambridge Multicultural Art Center. "The Great Flood Environment".
Alpha Gallery, Boston, MA. "Time of the World", an installation commissioned by First Night Inc..
The Bostonian Gallery, City Hall, Boston MA. "Paintings": Other Worlds", funded in part by the Office of the Arts and Humanities.
Gallery 57, Cambridge, MA. "Illuminating Paintings in Wax: experienced in an Environment of Changing Light Sources", funded in part by the Cambridge Arts Council.
Center for Performing and Visual ARTS GALLERY AT UMass Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Arts All-State Mentor Exhibition, installation with C. M. Judge.
The Brickbottom Gallery, Somerville, Massachusetts, “Dream Weavers”, (Juror: Debra Olin).
The Karl Drerup Gallery, Plymouth, New Hampshire, “Force of Nature”.
The Karl Drerup Gallery, Plymouth, New Hampshire, “Growl”.
Kepco Gallery, Seoul, South Korea, “Women + Body”, video installation with C. M. Judge
Media Cube 338, Gwanju, South Korea, “Women + Body”, video installation with C. M. Judge
Wilson Art Gallery, Andover Newton Theological Seminary, Newton, Massachusetts, “Community on the Hill”
FATV, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, “MOTION”, Mater Panis with C. M. Judge.
Nancy Lincoln Gallery, Beaver Country Day School, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, “Group Show”.
Art Institute of Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, “Does Gender Matter? He, She, Its—Third Person Singular”, Stream of Atonement Installation with C. M. Judge.
New Art Center, Newton, Massachusetts, “icons + alters”
New Art Center, Newton, Massachusetts, “icons + alters”
Bunker Hill Community College Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts. “WCA New England chapter juried show“.
Library Arts Center Gallery and Studio, Newport, New Hampshire, “Connections & Collaborations” , “Veils of Anima”, with C.M. Judge.
Newport Library Arts, Newport, New Hampshire. “Connections and Collaborations”.
Hammond Gallery, Fitchburg State College, Fitchburg, MA. CMWCA juried show, “Dark & Light”.
East Wing Gallery, Mount Wachusett Community College, Gardner, MA. WCA juried show, “Identity”.
New Art Center, "Icons and Alters", Newton, MA.
Janet Phelps, "Rapture", New York, New York.
Canon Rotunda, US Capitol, "Labyrinths for Peace:2000", travelling exhibit .
The Dillon Gallery, New York, NY "Fifth Annual Invitational Exhibition".
Metropolitan State College of Denver, Denver, CO, "The Many Faces of AIDS", (The AIDS Bathroom Installation).
THE GALLERY THREE ZERO, New York, NY, "Animal Magnetism", benefit exhibition for POWARS.
TZ' ART & CO., New York, NY. "Testwall, 10"x10"x10"".
Art initiatives at Tribeca 148 Gallery, New York, NY, "wall to wall'.
THE GALLERY THREE ZERO, New York, NY. "Breaching Containment".
Cambridge Multicultural Art Center, Cambridge, MA. "Air in Mind".
THE GALLERY THREE ZERO, New York, New York. "Apocalypse and Resurrection", benefit exhibition for AMFAR (The AIDS Bathroom Installation").
The Starr Gallery, Newton, MA. "Enlightenment Through Illumination", an installation.
Selected Reviews and Interviews
Baptist Standard, March 11, 2010, “Economic Squeeze Produces a New Kind of Seminarian”
ArtsMedia, June 2003, "Know Hands" by Rachel Strutt.
Phoenix, March 28, 2003, "Pick".
The Boston Globe Calendar, April 3, 2003, "Cheap Thrills."
South End News, April 3, 2003, "Pick".
Fitchburg Enterprise, April 2002, “Fitchburg Exhibit Focuses on Women’s Art”, Craig Semon.
Mountain Times, June 19, 1997, feature article.
CH 4 KCNC with Reynelda Muse, "The Many Faces of AIDS", July 26, 1995.
Rocky Mountain News, Spotlight, July 28, 1995.
The Metropolitan, ,"Artists focus on AIDS", July 21, 1995.
The Downtown Resident, review by Lisa Bornstein on "Breaching Containment" 1/29 (NYC).
The Cambridge Chronicle, "Artist's breath life into air", Kate Scheltz, December 3-10. Downtown Resident, Donna Ladd, May 11 (NYC).
The Philadelphia Inquirer, "Evoking the rainforest with objects, light and music", Edward Sozanske, July 12, 1991.
The Boston Globe, "The Spirit of First Night droves unquenchable", January 1.
The Newton Graphic, "Miracle Worker", December 13.
The Boston Sunday Globe, "Critics Choice", December 3, 10, 17, 24, and January 7.
The Worcester Magazine, "Life Cycles", Mary Trainer, December 6.
The Datebook, "Paula Rendino waxes eloquent", Frank Magiera, December 10.
The Watertown Press, "Three Watertown Artists in Open Studios Event this Weekend", May 4.
Art New England, "Paula Rendino: Other Worlds", Meredith Fife Day, May.
The Boston Globe, "Robert Taylor, "Critic's Choice, December 30.
The Newton Graphic, "Critic's Choice for First Night", Jules Becker, December 28.
The Cambridge Chronicle, feature article, December 3.e", February 17.
The Waltham New Tribune, feature article, Joe Gibbs
The Arlington Advocate, December 3.
Somerville Journal, September 17.
Panels and Publications
Women + Body, Kepco Gallery, Seoul, South Korea. Catalogue.
Women Caucus of The Arts, in conjunction with College Art Association Art Conference, New York, New York, Panel Discussion: “LIVE SPACE, “Transformation through Intuition and Redaction” with Carolee Schneemann and Elizabeth Streib.
Work featured in BLAZE : A Feminist Anthology in an essay titled "Co-creating Identity through Art: rituals both public and private", collaboration series (On Mine Hands, On Thine Hands; Stream of Atonement and Veils of Anima: mapping the soul’s journey) with by C. M. Judge.
Panelist “Co-Creating Identity Through Art: rituals both public and private” Panel, National Convention of the Women’s Caucus for Art, Boston, Massachusetts.
Panelist “Labyrinths and the Sacred”, Panel, National Convention of the Women’s Caucus of the Art, Philadelphia, PA.
Caerdroia: the journal of mazes and labyrinths, Essex, England, 28th edition, 1997,” A Labyrinth Ritual of Light and Sound”, p. 56 and 57.
Apocalypse and Resurrection, THE GALLERY THREE ZERO, New York, New York, p.32. Catalogue.