Contemporary artists often produce works that have an impact on the communities they come from or they want to address. In many cases, those who dedicate their art to the community use certain traits, customs, stories or specific traditions to create dialogues or build bridges between different groups. By such means, they can highlight problems, difficulties, and traumas, be they cultural, social, economic or moral. In times of crisis, art can be an engine of resilience. It is valuable at the heart of communities, as it has the ability to help the healing process.

Renée Renard’s work shown at the On Her Side exhibition is entitled Mihaela, Elena, Adriana, Daniela, Georgiana, Vasilica, Anamaria, Ionela, Simona, Madalina, Raluca, Laura, Victorita, Sorina, Ramona, Andreea, Floarea, Mariana, Valentina, Rozalia, Edit, Aurica ​​and displays 22 plates refurbished using kintsugi, the Japanese art practiced since the 15th century of repairing broken ceramic objects by gluing the shards with lacquer mixed with powdered gold or silver. On a philosophical level, kintsugi does not hide flaws, but brings out the beauty and value of the broken and mended objects. The artist employs this technique to convey a message of healing. Each plate comes with a strong emotional charge, representing the simpler or more complicated story of a victim of abuse and verbal or physical violence. Each plate corresponds to a woman mentioned in the title of the artwork. The plates were chosen because they are associated with the domestic space, the kitchen to which, according to the collective mentality, the woman belongs. Plates are often broken during a domestic raw ending in violence, because of frustration, disagreement or aggression. Consequently, they become witnesses to the trauma created.

In the artistic process, the plates were refurbished by the artist. The shards were reattached with the solder gun and the resulting veins were covered in gold leaf. The missing pieces were completely rebuilt from ceramic powder or porcelain, then gilded and attached to the vessels. They signify the loss of identity, the wound being so strong that healing could no longer occur. The veins symbolise the scars of the wounds suffered during a violent episode and should heal over time. The artist also used pieces from other vessels to fill the holes left by breaking.

Each plate is an x-ray of trauma. It has a story behind it and represents a pattern of aggression, whether verbal or physical. The shards symbolise intertwining destinies and stories, emphasizing the idea that any destiny should be mended.

The exhibition also displays a work table and all the reconditioning and repairing stages of the kintsugi technique. However, what the artist wants to stress is that healing a trauma is a continuous process. There is always a need to mend what is broken. Her work suggests that there is beauty in fragility and that some wounds, once acquired, should be revealed, not hidden. It is the wounds that contribute to shaping the whole story and they become part of each person’s history and memory.

Born in Timișoara, Renée Renard is a versatile artist who works with installations, objects, mixed media, microscopic photography and video, underwater photography and digital processing. In addition to the Faculty of Arts and Design, she graduated from two other faculties: Economics and Business Management, and Veterinary Medicine. She has a master’s degree in advertising and book graphics and another in sculpture and ceramics. She is a member of the Avantpost artistic group and participates in artistic and curatorial projects with Ciprian Chirileanu, a teacher and artist from Timisoara.

In her artistic practice, Renée Renard is interested in the convergence of art and science and the interpretation or documentation of micro-histories. As a descendant of French and German settlers who arrived in Banat in the 18th century, she has documented, interpreted and explored her family’s history in works such as A One Hundred Lives Journey (2013), 1538 Kilometres (2018) and faBRIQUE (2022). Through the subjects they cover, her works suggest her interest in becoming involved in underrepresented communities. In the last decade, she has participated in more than 60 group exhibitions, both nationally and internationally, and has had 16 solo shows.