Student speaks out on social issues through art

This is the first installment of five features to spotlight UConn School of Fine Arts’ students participating in the 2017 BFA Art Show.

Renald Louissaint became interested in art at a very young age.

“When I was seven my cousin taught me how to draw, and then I found out I was actually pretty good at it on my own,” he said.

As years went on he worked on his drawing skills and eventually got into graphic design and illustration, when it became time to go to college he knew that’s what he wanted to do.

Renald Louissaint edits images for his senior design project in the Design Center on Friday, March 24, 2017. (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

The senior graphic design major at the University of Connecticut has dedicated the last year working on his project for the Bachelor of Fine Art’s show on April 13 at ArtSpace Gallery in Willimantic.

Each year graduating candidates of the BFA program hold an exhibition in the gallery to showcase their senior projects. This year’s opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, April 13 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Louissaint’s project that he will be presenting is titled “An Intensive Study on the Color Pink and Homophobia in the Male Community from the Perspective of a Straight, Black, Male.”

“It’s a really long title, but it’s supposed to be exhaustingly long,” he said.

If there’s something that I feel is really a problem, and that I think I can address that issue, I’d like to do that with design
— Renald Louissaint

Louissaint, sporting recently dyed pink hair, said the premise of his project is the color pink in general and how it relates to the categorization of gender while focusing on homophobia and hyper-masculinity and why it is harmful.

“Coming from me, who is not part of the LGBTQA community, I feel like it’s important for people who aren’t necessarily affected by it directly,” said Louissaint. “I just wanted to talk about it.”

Much of the concepts of his artwork stems from issues that he feels passionately about, and thinks need to be discussed. Typically these are topics regarding humanity, sexuality and human rights.

“My project for the BFA show has been purely from my experience either growing up or just around me…If there’s something that I feel is really a problem, and that I think I can address that issue, I’d like to do that with design because it’s like a way to get people to look at it in a different way,” he said.

Renald Louissaint lays out a draft of his senior design project in the Design Center on Friday, March 24, 2017. (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

Aside from the actual art piece, the second most important thing to an artist is the space they work in.

“The space I work in always varies, but a lot of times I’m in this room [Design Center located in room 108 in the Art Building],” said Louissaint.

The room is brightly lit, and rather large being located in a corner of the Art Building.

The walls are lined with posters and other works designed by students, and both chalk and white boards covered in random doodles and drawings.

Walking into the room and not feeling a sense of creativity seems unlikely.

“I like to just be around a lot of designs, that’s when I work best. Like I have to have music playing and all that stuff,” he said before later putting on a Spotify playlist with Drake.

Louissaint’s process of design is one he takes organically. He begins with an idea that’ll he go through by sketching, later importing it into Adobe InDesign or Illustration.

“A lot of times I just kind of start and then I’ll make something really rough and just keep going and make new versions of it ‘til it’s good,” he said.

After a year of preparation, and the BFA show about two weeks away, when asked about what he learned during this process, Louissaint said, “You’re almost never prepared no matter how prepared [you think you are].”

If he could go back in time, he said be would have done even more research than he already had done. But despite that, Louissaint is looking forward to being done and showing his work.

“I’m happy where everything is…I think I got everything where I wanted it to be,” he said.

If he could go back in time, he said be would have done even more research than he already had done. But despite that, Louissaint is looking forward to being done and showing his work. (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Show will be held on Thursday, April 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the ArtSpace Gallery located on 480 Main Street in Willimantic, Connecticut. Admission is free to attend.


Angie DeRosa is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at angelina.derosa@uconn.edu.  She tweets @theangiederosa.