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‘Metal on the loom’

Accomplished artist continues her unique craft at Riderwood

Created date

September 2nd, 2016
Artist Renate Chernoff displayed a series of metal weavings entitled Never Forget at Riderwood’s 2015 resident art show.

Artist Renate Chernoff displayed a series of metal weavings entitled Never Forget at Riderwood’s 2015 resident art show.

When Renate Chernoff was in her forties and her children were all in school, she decided to reinvent herself. The family was living in in Knoxville, Tenn., and Renate enrolled in a master’s program at the University of Tennessee.

“I decided to go back to school. I had always wanted to go to art school, but I had to study something practical to earn a living,” Renate says. “My husband said, ‘Why don’t you take this opportunity?’”

And take the opportunity she did. Renate earned a master’s degree from the art school and was asked to stay on and teach after graduation. At first, she worked in metals, then she became interested in weaving. Later, Renate married the two art forms and started creating woven art made from various metals.

“I realized that could I use metal on the loom,” she says. “It worked very well, and I was able to use different kinds of metal like copper and stainless steel in very thin wires as though they were yarn.”

When the Chernoff family relocated to Maryland, Renate got involved with the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a co-op space located in Alexandria, Va., with studios and galleries for artists. Over the years, Renate has sold a number of pieces of art and has been commissioned to create original works.

Closer to family

About four years ago, Renate and her husband Amoz decided to move from their house in Rockville, Md., to Riderwood. The couple wanted to be closer to their children and looked at several retirement communities in the area.

“I liked what I saw at Riderwood—I liked the activity and the hustle and bustle and that the college comes in and does classes,” Renate says. 

“We have been really very happy here,” she adds, “and we’re very pleased with our choice.”

The Chernoffs chose a custom-style apartment at Riderwood. These spacious homes are created by combining two smaller apartment homes, and they feature two bedrooms plus a den. Renate turned one of the rooms into an art studio where she works on her metal weavings.

“My loom is in my studio, and I have some chests of drawers where all of my tools are stashed,” she says.

Riderwood is home to quite a few artists. Each summer, a committee organizes a multiday art show in the on-site gallery. 

In last year’s art show, Renate displayed a series of metal weavings entitled Never Forget. The powerful and, at times, haunting pieces reflect her feelings about the Holocaust. 

For the 2016 resident art show, Renate plans to display some of her earlier metal works, including a sterling silver Torah pointer and a lighthearted work she’s named Games People Play, a mixed-media piece featuring chess pieces, golf tees, dice, marbles, and other artifacts from various games. 

When she’s not busy creating new works of art in her at-home studio, Renate enjoys taking advantage of all of the activities available at Riderwood. She particularly likes taking college classes through the on-site lifelong learning institute. She has recently completed a course on memoir writing and hopes to begin documenting her life story.

“We really enjoy what [Riderwood] has to offer and the people we meet,” Renate says. “It’s amazing when you think of all of us getting along in years, and many of us are still very active.”