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Hidden Gems: Meet Renée Freville of Folx Gallery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Renée Freville.  

Hi Renée, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Folx Gallery started in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. We were a scrappy group of university students and recent graduates that were thrown into the midst of no jobs and even less opportunities to prove the talents we worked so hard to accomplish during our academic years. We were used to everyone telling us we were too young and to not expect to be in a position to make a change for years to come. As it was for many people, the national lockdown changed all this. Being furloughed from our jobs, with all the time in the world, a group of budding artists, administrators, curators, and writers put their minds together to give other artists the opportunities we were told we wouldn’t have for years. As our mission states, Folx Gallery is a virtual exhibition space dedicated to creating community connections through the exhibition of creators big and small. This is what we continue to strive for: giving opportunities for creators to showcase their talents no matter their age and/or background. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
As a small local business, one of the biggest challenges is growing our brand. For many of our team members, this has been the first job where they have been able to use their specified skills. For myself, I took on a big administrative role being Folx’s co-director. Through that all I’ve had to learn how to be fair but also assertive while I work to keep people on task and motivated. It also means being a problem-solver and a face for our group as I reach out and work with artists and other local groups. 

Another big obstacle is just keeping motivation and ambition up in the midst of burnout. Folx is a pure non-profit. We are completely volunteer-based and all of us who have taken on this passion project have other jobs and responsibilities as well. Myself, I also work as a curatorial assistant for another local gallery and as a teaching artist for an art museum. It can be quite a balancing act, especially when life at our paid place of employment gets busy. As said before, Folx Gallery began as a passion project and that passion is what keeps us moving forward, but amidst burnout, it can be hard to keep that passion alive. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Folx Gallery?
To be accessible to all creators, no matter their location or financial situation, Folx Gallery is a completely virtual organization. We use an online exhibition space called Exhibbit that allows viewers to enter a space that mimics the look of an actual gallery space. This opens up Folx for viewers and artists from around the world, using the virtual world to allow a global conversation between creators without barriers. In the couple years since its founding, Folx has completed six exhibitions with participating artists spanning over six continents, something we hoped for but never thought would be accomplished so soon after our start. Our literary and editorial team has started a Zine project that has become both printed for the local public and published virtually on our websites following the thematic drives of our exhibition. We are also dedicated to supporting other organizations and groups that share our drive and mission. During each exhibition, we choose one of these organizations and ask for donations. The team’s digital illustration has worked to create amazing designs for shirts, mugs, totes, and other goodies to raffle off for money-rasing purposes. All proceeds go to the chosen organization. 

As Folx continues to reach a more global audience, we don’t want to forget the amazing local artists that helped and inspired our start. I’ve taken on an initiative project that works with artists in the Louisville, and surrounding midwestern states, to showcase the talents and inspirations of local creators. This initiative goes into an extensive interview process, asking questions that dive deeper into the drive and inspiration, as well as the process each artist takes when creating. 

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
As the world continues to change, one thing I am certain about is that art will always be created and creators will always want an opportunity to exhibit their art. Within the next 5 to 10 years, we hope to move Folx into a brick-and-mortar gallery space where we can work with local Midwest artists, while also keeping our operations online for global artists. We aim to work more within the community, specifically working with other local art industries to bring more attention to local arts culture on a larger scale. 

With younger generations taking back their lives and ambitions, I foresee a big part of the art industry being run by this younger generation. As I look around, there are already so many small groups making big impacts with ambition and a driving desire on their side. 

As I see it, one of the biggest moves forward for the art industry is introducing a young generation of art collectors to the mix. In this economy, many young adults don’t have a large supplementable income that can be used for big art purchases, but it is key to remember that one does not have to make large purchases to be a collector. Recognizing and supporting the work of artists in one’s own city works hand in hand with the growth we hope to see as art and the young take over. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Nobie Martin
Renée Freville

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