- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) - When Karli Renz had to give speeches in college, she said she always chose to give a persuasive talk to her peer audience about the importance of art in the classroom.

“I would stress the importance of using the right side of your brain,” Renz said, noting she was always exposed to art as a child.

Her mother, Karen Renz, started teaching art classes on the first floor of their barn-turned-home in 1999. By the time she was eight, Renz was creating oil paintings.

“I always had so many art supplies and crafts at my disposal,” she said.

Renz, 23, who has five siblings, said that all of her brothers and sisters have creative outlets. One sister is a hairstylist, and one brother refinishes vintage furniture in his spare time.

Renz, however, followed directly in her mother’s footsteps.

“I took it to the extreme,” she said.

Renz didn’t initially follow an artistic path when she enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi.

“I changed my major several times during my first year of college,” she said. “Initially, I was majoring in business.”

It wasn’t until Renz decided to study abroad in 2009 that she realized art was what she wanted to do professionally.

She traveled to Pontlevoy, France, with the Abbey Program through USM’s Study Abroad. Renz took an art appreciation class and said she became inspired all over again.

“When I got back from France, I decided I wanted to do art,” Renz said.

So, she changed her major to painting and drawing.

While studying in college, Renz said she was a figure painter and considers herself a colorist.

Now, she primarily paints landscapes.

“Some of the landscapes I paint are very abstract,” she said.

Many artists have to continue their education at art schools in larger cities in order to find a job, Renz said, but she jumped right into work after obtaining her bachelor’s degree.

“I knew I had a guaranteed job when I got into the art program,” she said.

Renz’s parents, Karen and Eddie, own Bay Arts Center in Bay St. Louis.

When she was in college, Renz would often come home on Friday evenings and teach sip, dip and stroke classes.

Then, she’d wake up early Saturday morning and direct youth painting parties at the shop.

After graduating, Renz moved home and starting helping her mom run the center full-time.

“If I didn’t have this, I’d definitely be a starving artist,” Renz said.

When her parents decided to rent the retail space next to Bay Arts Center and open a retail store, Renz became the manager. Her responsibilities include ordering supplies, marketing and promotion.

A firm believer that art should be required, rather than optional, in schools, Renz also works with school districts to offer art supply packs for students enrolled in art classes.

She said the idea is that students can purchase the supplies they need in one pack at a local store rather than have to track it down at a chain retailer.

“People aren’t using a whole half of their brain,” she said. “Everyone can be taught to paint or draw. Art is a creative outlet.”

Renz said running the shop and hosting youth painting parties keeps her busy.

“If I didn’t have this job, I’d probably be able to paint more,” she said.

She has a studio in the back of her shop where she works on personal art and freelance projects. Two pieces she’s working on now are an abstract piece for her sister and a poster for Hope Haven.


Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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