Originally from Norfolk, VA, Renée Calway’s journey as a conceptual creative began in the artistic community of Northern California in 2010, where she graduated from Humboldt State University (HSU) in 2015 and established her practice as an exhibiting artist, showing large scale multi-media sculptural and installation work across the region. Renée has received awards for her artwork, including the Arcata Scrap and Salvage Award in 2015 and more recently, a Letter of Recognition in 2021 from Virginia Beach Mayor, Bobby Dyer, for her endeavors in community healing arts.
After leaving the California ecotopia of coastal cliffs and massive Redwoods in 2016, Renée looked beyond boundaries and found an impactful position teaching youth difficult academic concepts through practices in art. Renée says "That transition changed my life from a 'preaching to the choir' situation in California, to 'fighting on the front lines' in St. Louis, MO" where she spent time working in the surrounding area, from East St. Louis in Illinois, to Ferguson, MO, through the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) and St. Louis Science Center (SLSC) to transform educational experiences, especially in STEM, through unique arts integration experiences that she tailored to subjects like biology and engineering.
After a decade of traveling around the nation, artist Renée Calway returned to Hampton Roads by way of Virginia Beach, as a full time artist and part time educator. She teaches studio school classes to all ages at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (VA MOCA) and engages with the community through many ongoing projects, from The VIBE Arts District at the oceanfront to the YWCA R.E.S.T. Conference at Norfolk State University.
In addition to her teaching at VA MOCA since her move back home to the Hampton Roads area, Renée has worked as an educator and artist with Zeiders American Dream Theater to promote peace through The Origami Crane Project & Petals for Peace Project, was lead educator in The Birdhouse Project collaboration with VA MOCA, The ViBe District and From One Hand to Another, & co-founded the VIBE-rary, which seeks to unite the arts of The ViBe with the community of the Oceanfront Area Public Library with creative mindfulness and healing.
As a sculptor and activist, Renée Calway has exhibited many memorable installations, like Beyond the Body and The "She's a BrickHouse" Scroll, which celebrate strengths and struggles of being female and the evolution of the feminist movement. In addition, she currently has an iconic Virginia LOVE sign made out of almost entirely reused and recycled materials titled Eco-Conscious LOVE, on exhibit at Virginia Wesleyan University and the traveling installation Rising Tides, Rising Tensions, which exhibits the problematic history of Hampton Roads through an immersive maze-like experience of local newspaper article collages, is currently on display at Norfolk State University in Brown Hall, both of which exemplify her mission to bring art that educates, and motivates advocacy, activism and healing to her hometown.